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Schools of Buddhism => Mahayana => Madhyamaka => Topic started by: White Lotus on April 14, 2011, 12:10:21 pm

Title: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 14, 2011, 12:10:21 pm
I have for a long while known of the great value placed on Madhyamaka and so i utter my respect for it here, but not knowing its basic method, this utterance is without understanding.

Madhyamaka points towards emptiness. what is the method behind this seeing of emptiness in the simplest possible explanation.

i know there are certain sayings that guide in Madhyamaka, what are they please. if these sayings will make the approach any clearer.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Tsongkhapafan on April 14, 2011, 12:26:44 pm
Hi Tom,

I think you really do need to receive teachings on Madhyamaka orally from a qualified Teacher in order for them to really have an impact on your mind - otherwise Madhyamaka can seem very intellectual and is a solution for a problem that isn't even clearly understood or explained.  The ability to understand these teachings depends upon how pure and how empowered your mind is by virtuous energy and blessings, so there are many different factors that will lead to success.  Even the simplest and clearest explanation of Madhyamaka can be unintelligible to someone who does not have the necessary conditions - it's a bit like giving a really large print book to someone whose eyesight is very poor - even though the print is big and clear, they are still unable to read it because of obstacles from their side.

I would suggest seeking out a local Dharma centre and going along there for teachings, if you aren't already, as this will bring together the best conditions for success.  Nagarjuna said that for those who are not ready to receive these teachings, they can be like a poisonous snake and infect us with the poison of either nihilism or eternalism.  Receiving correct explanations and imposing our own wrong interpretation on them is not unknown, and this can lead to worse problems than we already have

In short, I think you need to guidance of a qualified Teacher if you really want to understand this topic.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on April 14, 2011, 01:33:58 pm
Madhyamaka points towards emptiness. what is the method behind this seeing of emptiness in the simplest possible explanation.

i know there are certain sayings that guide in Madhyamaka, what are they please. if these sayings will make the approach any clearer.
The Madhyamaka is a philosophical approach to emptiness. It uses ideas, logic and debate. If you are going to talk about "method" then you are no longer talking about philosophy, you have to talk about meditation.

The parallel meditational approach is Shamata, then Vipassana, and then Sutrayana Mahamudra. Plus in this system you must also accumulate merit separately to combine with this accumulation of wisdom for it to be a fruitful Dharma path.

The question that Madhyamaka answers is, "What is the essence of phenomena, what is its eternal Truth?"
The answer is that such a thing cannot be found.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 15, 2011, 12:15:37 pm
Thanks so much for your replies.

this is helpful... "What is the essence of phenomena, what is its eternal Truth?"

since the essence radiates, it can be found, but when it is found it is understood as 'without conditions'. without form, without name. if we were unable to perceive this radiance within the subject and see it as the same radiance as the objective world, there would be no seeing. the seeing is wisdom.

'truth' is a pole to which a donkey can be tethered for aeons. perhaps no comment at all is best. i dont seek to prove anything, only to explore the meaning of Madhyamaka through your teaching on this site.

above all else forgive my presumptious arrogance in speaking about things that are essentialy 'wordless', about which i can be said to have no understanding... only a little perhaps. please be patient with my fumbling in the night of apparent ignorance.

thanks again.

Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: catmoon on April 15, 2011, 01:33:46 pm
You have chosen a fiendishly difficult subject of study. My experience of the Madhayamaka has been that it is the sort of thing you will enjoy studying - if you enjoy things like physics and calculus and differential equations. Many people read it, and accept the conclusions, but so far I have met but a single person who understood even part of it in detail.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on April 15, 2011, 03:42:01 pm
I have for a long while known of the great value placed on Madhyamaka and so i utter my respect for it here, but not knowing its basic method, this utterance is without understanding.

Madhyamaka points towards emptiness. what is the method behind this seeing of emptiness in the simplest possible explanation.

i know there are certain sayings that guide in Madhyamaka, what are they please. if these sayings will make the approach any clearer.

best wishes, Tom.


“Sentient beings are strange, although wishing happiness they avoid its causes. Although wishing to avoid suffering they constantly create its causes.” -Shantideva

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 16, 2011, 11:51:32 am
fiendishly difficult! ever seen a cat run up a wall?!
causality... cause and effect, suffering is in what you do. happiness is in what you do.

i am beginning to realize that Madhyamika, like any other form of Buddhism is probably a complete entire way in itself, and so a vast amount may be attached to it... silly of me really to think that it could be approached in one thread.

what is Zen? what is Madhyamika? what is Therevada? all complete ways in themselves that require years of study usually.

nonetheless, if anyone reading this thread can simplify four or five years worth of study, or more, into a few phrases (as simply put as possible), i would be so very grateful!

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on April 16, 2011, 12:08:12 pm
fiendishly difficult! ever seen a cat run up a wall?!
causality... cause and effect, suffering is in what you do. happiness is in what you do.

i am beginning to realize that Madhyamika, like any other form of Buddhism is probably a complete entire way in itself, and so a vast amount may be attached to it... silly of me really to think that it could be approached in one thread.

what is Zen? what is Madhyamika? what is Therevada? all complete ways in themselves that require years of study usually.

nonetheless, if anyone reading this thread can simplify four or five years worth of study, or more, into a few phrases (as simply put as possible), i would be so very grateful!

best wishes, Tom.

Madhyamaka is simply an expression at a point along the continuum of views on 'emptiness'. Not nihilistic, we test the absence of inherent existence by seeking to find inherent existence in 'self' and 'other' and realising there is no permanent phenomenon to find.

Recognise non-duality, and the absence of 'self' and 'other'.  Seek to remove anger, desirous attachment and to eliminate ignorance of impermanence and of the absence of inherent existence.
Above all, cultivate and express Compassion and work for the benefit and enlightenment of all sentient beings.

That's a very rough and ready summation. ;)

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on April 16, 2011, 11:25:40 pm
fiendishly difficult! ever seen a cat run up a wall?!
causality... cause and effect, suffering is in what you do. happiness is in what you do.

i am beginning to realize that Madhyamika, like any other form of Buddhism is probably a complete entire way in itself, and so a vast amount may be attached to it... silly of me really to think that it could be approached in one thread.

what is Zen? what is Madhyamika? what is Therevada? all complete ways in themselves that require years of study usually.


Hi Tom,

Fiendishly difficult, not necessarily.  All forms of Buddhism, while they may appear an entire way in themselves, are all based on understanding The Four Noble Truths (suffering and it’s causes) and the Eight Fold Path (the way to end suffering). 

Quote from: White Lotus
nonetheless, if anyone reading this thread can simplify four or five years worth of study, or more, into a few phrases (as simply put as possible), i would be so very grateful!


There is a good summary of the Mâdhyamika at Shantideva Online. (http://www.shantideva.net/madhyamika.htm)

The following is a ramble from the introduction to the Bodhicaryavatara: A Guide to the Buddhist Path to Awakening. A excellent book, btw.

The Buddha taught that what we call ourselves is actually a construct superimposed upon an ever - changing flow of physical matter, sensations, conceptions, further mental contents such as volitions and so on, and consciousness.  That is all there is.  There is no unchanging Me, my Self.  Check out the Anatta-lakkhana (no self) Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mendis/wheel268.html) some time. 

Madhyamaka writers interpret this by saying all things are like illusions, in that they appear one way, but actually exist in another way.  They appear to unenlightened beings as if their existence is interdependent and fixed - inherent existence.   However, this is not how it is in reality.  In reality, this existence in dependence on mental projections, that are impermanent; that is bound to change and decay.

When we look closely, we discover that things don’t have the inherent existence, that their existance is what we project on to them.  In reality, they are “empty” of the inherent existence, which is a projection. The often-quoted example is that of a chair.   

If the chair had inherited existence, then that existence could be found when we pulled the chair apart. However, when we pull the chair apart we find that the chair is just made from pieces of wood, that were assembled together to make what we call a chair.

Therefore, people say, the chair exists as a conventional truth, but not in the way we thought it did. It is in this respect that Madhyamaka say all things are like illusions. This does not mean literal illusions; rather they are like illusions in that they appear one way, but actual exist in another. 

The Madhyamaka is the middle way. That means it avoids the two cardinal errors of under-negation (something exists inherently) or over negation (nothing exists at all, in any sense) ie. nihilistic.

Hope that helps. 

 :)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 17, 2011, 11:57:32 am
Thank you Francis and Yeshe. no self is found on analysis, only the five aggregates that compose the 'appearance' of a self.

i was reading about Madhyamaka yesterday... it seems that any argument can be found to be empty.

the tetralemma says:

real,
illusory,
neither real nor illusory,
both real and illusory.

or, short, long, neither long nor short, both long and short.

all of these positions can be argued and whichever position you seek is the one you find, however Madhyamaka takes the middle way between all positions which is emptiness. they argue through logic that all positions and arguments cancel each other out and that the ultimate non position is empptiness.

the mind cleared of all opinions is the mind that sees emptiness. the clear mind.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on April 17, 2011, 08:43:55 pm
the tetralemma says:

real,
illusory,
neither real nor illusory,
both real and illusory.
In the Prasangika, since those are the four possible logical explanations for how things exist, and they are all disproven, I have a novel interpretation. Paraphrasing Mr. Spock from a barely remembered Star Trek episode, "If all the logical possibilities are disproven, then the only possibilities that are left are the illogical ones." Or, putting in my terms, the answer is a paradox.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 18, 2011, 08:07:30 am
clouds passing in the sky,
sun shining down at this moment.
typing at this computer...
im going to go home and have a cup of coffee.

thus, just so.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on April 20, 2011, 06:31:30 am
Dear Friends

om svasti

Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on April 20, 2011, 08:16:10 am
Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...
I know in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions that these four points are considered a prerequisite to a philosophical understanding of the Great Madhyamaka (3rd Turning/Buddha Nature/Shentong). It now seems like that is also true in the Jonang!
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on April 20, 2011, 09:14:11 am
Dear Friends

om svasti

Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...

mangalam
Tashi Nyima



OK.  I'll ask  :)  : 

Please could you explain what Great Madhyamaka teaches please ?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on April 20, 2011, 10:06:44 am
Dear Yeshe la

mangalam

Madhyamaka proponents postulate that ultimate reality is a "non-affirming negation", and consider that nothing is truly established. This view is known as rangtong (self-emptiness).

Maha Madhyamaka proponents assert that compounded phenomena, adventitiously posited uncompounded phenomena, and self-emptiness are NOT truly established. This is the zhentong (other-empty) view.

We accept Buddha Nature; self-cognizing, self illuminating pristine wisdom; all ultimate Buddha-qualities primordially indwelling intrinsically; other-emptiness; and the immutable thoroughly established nature as truly established.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on April 20, 2011, 10:21:54 am
Dear Yeshe la

mangalam

Madhyamaka proponents postulate that ultimate reality is a "non-affirming negation", and consider that nothing is truly established. This view is known as rangtong (self-emptiness).

Maha Madhyamaka proponents assert that compounded phenomena, adventitiously posited uncompounded phenomena, and self-emptiness are NOT truly established. This is the zhentong (other-empty) view.

We accept Buddha Nature; self-cognizing, self illuminating pristine wisdom; all ultimate Buddha-qualities primordially indwelling intrinsically; other-emptiness; and the immutable thoroughly established nature as truly established.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

Thank you Tashi-la.

I thought this would help the thread and place the discussion in context. :)

maitri

Yeshe
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on April 20, 2011, 11:15:54 am
Madhyamaka proponents postulate that ultimate reality is a "non-affirming negation", and consider that nothing is truly established. This view is known as rangtong (self-emptiness).
OK, I can hang with you there. The "non-affirming negation" says that it is impossible to establish how phenomena abides, right?

Quote
Maha Madhyamaka proponents assert that compounded phenomena, adventitiously posited uncompounded phenomena, and self-emptiness are NOT truly established. This is the zhentong (other-empty) view.
I didn't understand that at all.

Quote
We accept Buddha Nature; self-cognizing, self illuminating pristine wisdom; all ultimate Buddha-qualities primordially indwelling intrinsically; other-emptiness; and the immutable thoroughly established nature as truly established.
I understand this as saying Ultimate Reality exists as a type of sub-stratum to manifest phenomena. It is eternal and unchanging, so it can be said to be truly "Real". It is empty of anything other than it's own intrinsic qualities of Love, Wisdom, and Power (to love, know and do).

So my next question is: Is manifest phenomena simply an expression of this Ultimate Reality, or how does it abide?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on April 20, 2011, 02:15:58 pm
Dear Friend

om svasti

Maha Madhyamaka proponents assert that compounded phenomena, adventitiously posited uncompounded phenomena, and self-emptiness are NOT truly established. This is the zhentong (other-empty) view.

Basically, all perceivable dependent, compounded phenomena (those with causes and parts), as well as any mentally constructed independent and uncompounded phenomena (i.e., Ishvara) are false --they are neither independent nor permanent. They are self-empty, lacking inherent existence. They do not exist 'from their own side'.

The view of 'self-emptiness' is also provisional, because it does not and cannot encompass all possibilities. A non-affirming negation of all is perilously close to blatant nihilism, but fortunately self-contradictory. In making THIS statement, it is positing that there is no affirmation...

Does the non-affirming negation not apply to this concept? Is this an affirmation that all is self-empty, or not? If yes, it is self-contradictory. If not, self-emptiness is self-empty. It is not truly established.

Is manifest phenomena simply an expression of this Ultimate Reality, or how does it abide?

The relation berween samsara and nirvana is beautifully illuminated by Kalki Pundarika: Nirvana is like the sun, and samsara like the shadow.

They are not identical. Samsara is impossible without nirvana. Ultimate Reality is the pristine non-dual wisdom, the stainless alaya basis-of-all (not to be confused with the alaya vijnana).

mangalam
Tashi Nyima



Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on April 20, 2011, 03:11:15 pm
Dear Friends

om svasti

Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...

mangalam
Tashi Nyima



OK.  I'll ask  :)  : 

Please could you explain what Great Madhyamaka teaches please ?


To understand the Madhyamaka it’s best to read the Indian sources, and avoid the later Tibetan developments, because there is no Zhentong in any of the original Indian Madhyamaka.

Catch you all later :)

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on April 20, 2011, 03:41:19 pm
Dear Friend

om svasti

Evidently, the term zhentong is Tibetan. It does not follow that the view it represents is Tibetan. It was coined to correct a mistaken view, bordering on nihilism.

Are the writings of the Regent Maitreya, Arya Nagarjuna, Arya Asanga, and Arya Vasubandhu 'later Tibetan developments'?

When such 'advice' is proferred, some substantiation would be in order. Merely stating a sectarian opinion does not contribute to a serious discussion.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on April 20, 2011, 04:11:57 pm
Dear Friend

om svasti

Evidently, the term zhentong is Tibetan. It does not follow that the view it represents is Tibetan. It was coined to correct a mistaken view, bordering on nihilism.

Are the writings of the Regent Maitreya, Arya Nagarjuna, Arya Asanga, and Arya Vasubandhu 'later Tibetan developments'?

When such 'advice' is proferred, some substantiation would be in order. Merely stating a sectarian opinion does not contribute to a serious discussion.

mangalam

Tashi Nyima


Cheers Tashi, the Zhentong] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhentong) Rangtong debate, is an interesting discussion.  Sorry, I will be away for week or so, and don’t have time to answer your questions about the Indian masters.  Certainly, Nagarjuna didn’t subscribe to the Zhentong school of thought. It also depends on what you mean by nihilism, which is thrown around loosely, and also does not contribute to a serious discussion.





Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: catmoon on April 21, 2011, 03:12:05 pm
 Hi Tashi

What do you mean by 'truly established"? Does this mean logically established beyond any possibility of doubt? Or is it more like something being established by a valid cognizer?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on April 23, 2011, 07:41:05 am
Hi Tashi

What do you mean by 'truly established"? Does this mean logically established beyond any possibility of doubt? Or is it more like something being established by a valid cognizer?

Dear Friend

om svasti

"Truly established" is perhaps an imperfect term (but widely used) to denote that which cannot be refuted. It is also equivalent to "ultimately real".

In Buddhist doxography, schools are differentiated on the basis of that which they propose as 'truly established'.

In the Hearer Vehicle, the Vaibhasika (Great Exposition) school considers compounded phenomena, uncompounded phenomena, conventional phenomena, and ultimate phenomena as truly established, while the Sautrantika (Sutra) school considers only present minute particles and present moments of consciousness as truly established.

In the Bodhisattva Vehicle, the Yogachara (not to be confused with so-called 'Mind Only') school considers consciousness devoid of apprehended object and apprehending subject as truly established; the Madhyamaka (both Svatantrika and Prasangika) schools do not accept anything as truly established; and the Maha Madhyamaka school accepts Buddha Nature, self-cognizing & self illuminating pristine wisdom, all ultimate Buddha-qualities primordially indwelling intrinsically, other-emptiness, and the immutable thoroughly established nature as truly established.

BTW, anyone claiming that the Noble Nagarjuna did not propose zhentong (evidently, not using that Tibetan term, as he wrote in Sanskrit) has not read his In Praise of the Dharmadhatu. Arya Nagarjuna is an early patriarch of the Maha Madhyamaka school.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima


Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Sunya on April 23, 2011, 05:17:55 pm
"Emptiness is proclaimed by the victorious one as the refutation of all viewpoints;
But those who hold "emptiness" as a viewpoint—the true perceivers have called those "incurable" (asadhya)" (Nagarjuna, MMK 13.8)

http://www.orientalia.org/article492.html (http://www.orientalia.org/article492.html)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on April 26, 2011, 07:54:38 pm
"Emptiness is proclaimed by the victorious one as the refutation of all viewpoints;
But those who hold "emptiness" as a viewpoint—the true perceivers have called those "incurable" (asadhya)" (Nagarjuna, MMK 13.8)

[url]http://www.orientalia.org/article492.html[/url] ([url]http://www.orientalia.org/article492.html[/url])


EH MA HO
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 27, 2011, 12:09:20 pm
once all view points are refuted, one has a clear and ordinary mind, only uncluttered.

emptiness is not only not taking a philosophical position during a discussion. it is also perceived when one has dropped nothingness and anythingness. not being one nor many. it has absolutely no name and no position. once this is seen there is a complete dissapearance of subject. ones subject, inner awareness completely vanishes. it is no longer possible to look within. only the objective world of tathata is apprehenable to the awareness. in a way... seeing the nameless, one is annihilated, and yet awareness of the objective world remains. since this is the annihilation of ones own nature, the subject (not the self) it can be said that subjective awareness of buddha nature is not permanent, only objective awareness (and actually, not even that under certain circumstances). it is accurate to say that the apparent 'self' and more significantly the subjective 'within' are both impermanent, and though empty may both be perceived, particularly after their abscence (annihilation).

in soto zen, the annihilation of the subjective 'own' nature is known as the attainment of the Great Ichantika, the dissapearance of the Buddha nature within one. however purer still is to embrace the Self of True Loving Kindness and so one returns from a postion of subjective annihilation to having again a nature, that has gone beyond 'true nature'.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on April 27, 2011, 12:40:13 pm
In your OP you wrote:
''I have for a long while known of the great value placed on Madhyamaka and so i utter my respect for it here, but not knowing its basic method, this utterance is without understanding.''

Were you looking for advice as someone who does not understand the basics, or looking to show off how much you really know?

if you wanted a deep and meaningful debate,why not say so at the outset and save members from wasting time?

maitri

Yeshe. _/\_
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on April 27, 2011, 01:31:21 pm
From Tashi Nyima:
Quote
The relation berween samsara and nirvana is beautifully illuminated by Kalki Pundarika: Nirvana is like the sun, and samsara like the shadow.
Sounds like Plato's cave!

BTW when Plato's cave was explained to (the previous) Kalu R. he said something like, "Yeah, and I'm the guy that got up and turned around to look at the light source."
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on April 27, 2011, 10:30:02 pm
.. BTW, anyone claiming that the Noble Nagarjuna did not propose zhentong (evidently, not using that Tibetan term, as he wrote in Sanskrit) has not read his In Praise of the Dharmadhatu. Arya Nagarjuna is an early patriarch of the Maha Madhyamaka school.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima 


Hi Tashi, as I was just pointing out, before I went away for Easter, that there are two schools of thought on this topic: the Rangtong and the Shentong.  Neither is exclusive, and both are valid.

I have not read the Dharmadhatustava (The Praise of the Dharmadhatu) so I looked it up.  It seems that many books have been attributed to Nagarjuna, but there is only one book that all agree was actually written by him, and that book is the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C5%ABlamadhyamakak%C4%81rik%C4%81) or The Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way. 

Apparently, in the later chapters of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, Nagarjuna asserts that the emptiness is of all things (ie. all things, including the Buddha, have no inherent existence).  Therefore, I find that attributing the Dharmadhatustava (The Praise of the Dharmadhatu) as being actually written by Nagarjuna as rather doubtful.  Paul Williams, in Mahāyāna Buddhism: the doctrinal foundations, also suggests that while the text was popular with Tibetans like Dolboba, it was probably not written by Nagarjuna, nor does it cohere with the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.  Therefore, I suggest that anyone who proposes that Nagarjuna supported the “concept" of a Buddha nature should read the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā where Nagarjuna states that Buddha-nature is shunyata (empty).
 

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 28, 2011, 11:12:57 am
Yeshe, i only presume, perhaps rather arrogantly that the different paths point towards an objective experience. i come to Madyamaka not knowing much about the basics or the subtleties. i only have my own experience to go by. i expect this experience is universal to whoever seeks it.

it seems that my previous experience reflects Madhyamakan ideals to some degree, but is this not true of all Mahayanan approaches.

i hope my post was not presumptious.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 28, 2011, 11:16:51 am
it seems that 'emptiness' is a major feature of Madhyamaka, perhaps the only fundamental.
emptiness of any inherent existence.
emptiness of self.
emptiness of the universe, all forms.
emptiness of any teaching.
emptiness of ego.

i assume that emptiness is absolutely fundamental to Madhyamaka.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on April 28, 2011, 12:00:36 pm
.. BTW, anyone claiming that the Noble Nagarjuna did not propose zhentong (evidently, not using that Tibetan term, as he wrote in Sanskrit) has not read his In Praise of the Dharmadhatu. Arya Nagarjuna is an early patriarch of the Maha Madhyamaka school.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima 


Hi Tashi, as I was just pointing out, before I went away for Easter, that there are two schools of thought on this topic: the Rangtong and the Shentong.  Neither is exclusive, and both are valid.

I have not read the Dharmadhatustava (The Praise of the Dharmadhatu) so I looked it up.  It seems that many books have been attributed to Nagarjuna, but there is only one book that all agree was actually written by him, and that book is the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C5%ABlamadhyamakak%C4%81rik%C4%81[/url]) or The Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way. 



All agree?  Rather a grand statement.  And which 'him'? LOL :)

How many people did you ask?

In truth, the verification of the provenance of scripture is not about the majority view, if such exists in this case.

We have virtually no evidence of exact provenance for the Pali canon, and a mixed bag for Shantideva and Nagarjuna (however many of them there were who shared those names).

Of course, it is not only provenance.  Large religious groups tend to dictate which scriptures are presented as authentic in 'majority' terms.  If a smaller sect thinks differently they are 'democratically' wrong, which means nothing. 

Unless you can show with certainty that the scripture Tashi referenced was not authored by Nagarjuna, then it should be accepted as a rebuttal of your earlier point. I think that's fair. :)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on April 28, 2011, 04:20:24 pm
All agree?  Rather a grand statement.  And which 'him'? LOL :)

How many people did you ask?

In truth, the verification of the provenance of scripture is not about the majority view, if such exists in this case.

We have virtually no evidence of exact provenance for the Pali canon, and a mixed bag for Shantideva and Nagarjuna (however many of them there were who shared those names).

Of course, it is not only provenance.  Large religious groups tend to dictate which scriptures are presented as authentic in 'majority' terms.  If a smaller sect thinks differently they are 'democratically' wrong, which means nothing.  

Unless you can show with certainty that the scripture Tashi referenced was not authored by Nagarjuna, then it should be accepted as a rebuttal of your earlier point. I think that's fair. :)

Don’t worry Yeshe, I've done my homework.  Nagarjuna, founding the Mādhyamaka school on the Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way. I’ve also read Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara - A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life a number of times, as well as commentaries on Chapter nine.  This is Mahāyāna Buddhism at its best, so I agree that it is unfortunate when some religious groups tend to dictate which scriptures are presented as authentic.  

 :)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on April 29, 2011, 09:05:56 am
Madhyamaka proponents postulate that ultimate reality is a "non-affirming negation", and consider that nothing is truly established. This view is known as rangtong (self-emptiness).

Maha Madhyamaka proponents assert that compounded phenomena, adventitiously posited uncompounded phenomena, and self-emptiness are NOT truly established. This is the zhentong (other-empty) view.


in both cases of Rangtong and Zhentong it seems that nothing is truly established. to be attached to the finger that points at the moon is to cling to the words "non affirming negation.

is there any significant difference between Zhentong and Rangtong if both of them recognise that nothing is truly established. "not a thing from the very beginning." (see Hui neng)

do i understand the above quote and the intention behind it? probably not... please clarify the difference between Zhentong and Rantong. is this knowledge important in understanding the basis of Madhyamaka?

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on April 29, 2011, 09:22:50 am
Caveat: the different lineages have somewhat different interpretation of what Zhentong is. This is more or less the Kagyu take on it.
In both cases of Rangtong and Zhentong it seems that nothing is truly established. to be attached to the finger that points at the moon is to cling to the words "non affirming negation.

is there any significant difference between Zhentong and Rangtong if both of them recognise that nothing is truly established. "not a thing from the very beginning." (see Hui neng)

do i understand the above quote and the intention behind it? probably not... please clarify the difference between Zhentong and Rantong. is this knowledge important in understanding the basis of Madhyamaka?
Zhentong says that manifest phenomena are self-empty, just like Rangtong. However Zhentongpas say that the Dharmakaya, or Dharmadhatu, or Buddha Nature, or "Ultimate Truth", or whatever you want to call it is Real. It is not self- empty. It is empty of anything other than it's own pristine existence, (if you can call something that is not manifest existent). That is why it is called the "Empty-of-Other" school.

When the Rantongpas say, "non-affirming negation", what they are specifically not affirming is this Ultimate Reality that the Zhentongpas postulate--big difference.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 05, 2011, 11:48:03 am
thank you Santamonicaj,

it seems to me that as soon as you say anything you fall into dualistic discrimination and therefore miss the point.

however unless you say something affirmative people wont look for this/that which is non affirmed! since they wont be saying anything about anything at all!

what a fix, either way you are limited, unless you have actually apprehended/seen the great pearl, the luminescent moon within... but that can be a 'subject' annihilation event! and it too needs to be let go of. infact the mind being a non abider will not hold onto any such seeing.

i must say, i am very greatful for your clear description of zhentong and rantong differences... in a nut shell! thank you.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on May 05, 2011, 08:19:27 pm
thank you Santamonicaj,

it seems to me that as soon as you say anything you fall into dualistic discrimination and therefore miss the point.

however unless you say something affirmative people wont look for this/that which is non affirmed! since they wont be saying anything about anything at all!
That's exactly why I can never be a Zen practitioner! My hat is off to those brave souls that do not need a map. :jinsyx:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: t on May 05, 2011, 10:23:14 pm
Quote
That's exactly why I can never be a Zen practitioner! My hat is off to those brave souls that do not need a map. :jinsyx:
Blessed are those who face the bamboo stick...   :cheesy:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on May 06, 2011, 06:07:26 am
Don’t worry Yeshe, I've done my homework.  Nagarjuna, founding the Mādhyamaka school on the Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way. I’ve also read Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara - A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life a number of times, as well as commentaries on Chapter nine.  This is Mahāyāna Buddhism at its best, so I agree that it is unfortunate when some religious groups tend to dictate which scriptures are presented as authentic.   

 :)

om svasti

By the logic of the statement that because Arya Nagarjuna wrote one thing in an earlier work, and another (apparently) in a later one, the latter must be spurious, one would be led to conclude that most teachings of the Buddha after the first sermon are also inauthentic, as He spoke at that time of phenomena as established.

I confess openly my adherence to the traditional understanding of Arya Nagarjuna's authorship of In Praise of the Dharmadhatu, which in some eyes makes me a superstitious traditionalist.

Some of us have also read ("a number of times") a few texts, and do not presume on that account to have a greater realization than the Omniscient Dolpopa and Dharma Lord Taranatha, nor do we place our trust in mere academicians whose 'scholarship' pretends to dictate which scriptures are authentic.

Ultimately, dear Friend, we live and die by our practice. Views come and go: they are words, fingers pointing at the moon. They are not the moon.

sarva mangalam
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on May 06, 2011, 12:05:09 pm
Don’t worry Yeshe, I've done my homework.  Nagarjuna, founding the Mādhyamaka school on the Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way. I’ve also read Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara - A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life a number of times, as well as commentaries on Chapter nine.  This is Mahāyāna Buddhism at its best, so I agree that it is unfortunate when some religious groups tend to dictate which scriptures are presented as authentic.   

 :)

om svasti

By the logic of the statement that because Arya Nagarjuna wrote one thing in an earlier work, and another (apparently) in a later one, the latter must be spurious, one would be led to conclude that most teachings of the Buddha after the first sermon are also inauthentic, as He spoke at that time of phenomena as established.

I confess openly my adherence to the traditional understanding of Arya Nagarjuna's authorship of In Praise of the Dharmadhatu, which in some eyes makes me a superstitious traditionalist.

Some of us have also read ("a number of times") a few texts, and do not presume on that account to have a greater realization than the Omniscient Dolpopa and Dharma Lord Taranatha, nor do we place our trust in mere academicians whose 'scholarship' pretends to dictate which scriptures are authentic.

Ultimately, dear Friend, we live and die by our practice. Views come and go: they are words, fingers pointing at the moon. They are not the moon.

sarva mangalam


In the end, how do I decide what is 'authentic' teaching ? 

Because it is consistent throughout with all other Buddhist teachings, or maybe a selection of them?

Because others deem it so, and tell me as their guru what I should think?

Or because I have meditated on it and find it to be useful and truthful?

I have had a few good teachers.  Most are very disappointed when a student accepts their every utterance.  In fact some are playful enough to be outrageous in their assertions in order to test if students are paying attention and are actually practising, testing and verifying! ;)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: catmoon on May 06, 2011, 05:44:16 pm
Quote
In the end, how do I decide what is 'authentic' teaching ? 

Because it is consistent throughout with all other Buddhist teachings, or maybe a selection of them?

Because others deem it so, and tell me as their guru what I should think?

Or because I have meditated on it and find it to be useful and truthful?

I'd say none of the above. The last one is particularly dangerous, as it can lead to the sort of error I ran into with authority figures in the churches. They would often simply say "I/we have prayed about it and that settles it".

There really is no authenticity to be had, not even in the conventional sense. All we can do do if try to put the teachings into practice and see what works. Unfortunately, practices that work really well for me might not work at all for you, and vice versa. And what works really well for a bunch of monks in a Himalayan monastery might not work for either of us.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on May 06, 2011, 06:58:00 pm
om svasti

By the logic of the statement that because Arya Nagarjuna wrote one thing in an earlier work, and another (apparently) in a later one, the latter must be spurious, one would be led to conclude that most teachings of the Buddha after the first sermon are also inauthentic, as He spoke at that time of phenomena as established.

I confess openly my adherence to the traditional understanding of Arya Nagarjuna's authorship of In Praise of the Dharmadhatu, which in some eyes makes me a superstitious traditionalist.

Some of us have also read ("a number of times") a few texts, and do not presume on that account to have a greater realization than the Omniscient Dolpopa and Dharma Lord Taranatha, nor do we place our trust in mere academicians whose 'scholarship' pretends to dictate which scriptures are authentic.

Ultimately, dear Friend, we live and die by our practice. Views come and go: they are words, fingers pointing at the moon. They are not the moon.

sarva mangalam




Hi there Tashi, I have no problem with the belief in Buddha nature, so I’m not disputing your practice.  It’s just that the Buddha nature teachings are from a different stream to the Madhyamaka teachings of Nagarjuna, as found in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikāv (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way). 

The Buddha nature teachings are more aligned with the later Yogacara teachings of Asanga (Uttara Tantra Shastra) and Vasubandhu.  So, to me it seems unlikely that Nagarjuna would change horses mid-stream, and abandon his teachings on Shunyata, as found in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.  Where he says the emptiness of all things i.e., all things, including the Buddha have no inherent existence (MMK 22:26).

The Yogacara, along with the Madhyamaka, is one of the two principal schools of Indian Mahayana Buddhism.  Current debates among Tibetan schools between the Shentong (empty of other) versus Rangtong (empty of self) views appear similar to earlier debates between Yogācāra and Mādhyamaka, but the issues and distinctions have evolved further.

Dolpopa developed a teaching known as Shentong, which is related to the Indian Yogacara school, and the Tathagatagarbha tradition. Dolpopa was a free thinker and taught that Buddha nature was atman (Self or Soul) ie. eternalism or substantialism.  As the Madhyamaka is the middle way between the extremes of eternalism and nihilism, it differs from that stream of Buddhism. It should also be remembered that the Buddha taught anatta, not atta, as described in the Anatta-lakkhana-sutta, the sutta on the Not-self Characteristic. The second of the Buddha’s Three Cardinal Discourses. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/wheel017.html)

So what is the Madhyamaka?  I’d say it’s a source of methods for approaching prajnaparamita, or "perfection of wisdom", the sixth of the Six Perfections of the bodhisattva path.  In this sense, Buddha nature is the potential to become a Buddha, like milk can become butter. 

I think Stephen Batchelor nailed it, when he said “one of the most striking passages in Shantideva is the verse in which Shantideva says that the person who dies, and the person who is reborn, are other. And, therefore, the only valid motive that one can have for acting has to be compassion. There is no "you" who continues into a future life. "You" finish at death, and something else, another being is then born, like a parent giving birth to a child. That position takes the subject—me, the ego—out of the equation. The process of evolutionary change is not about me, Stephen Batchelor, but about what I can now do to improve the spiritual evolutionary advantage of those who come after my death. If you take the idea of otherness in this way, you no longer need to posit some personal consciousness that goes from one life to the next”.

There is a good summary on doctrinal disputes by Jamgon Kongtrul rinpoche, if you scroll down to Rangtong and Shentong. (http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/A%20-%20Tibetan%20Buddhism/Authors/Ringu%20Tulku/The%20Rime%20Movement/THE%20RIME%20(%20Ris-med%20)%20MOVEMENT.htm)

Anyhow, that’s how I understand it at the moment, and as I am relatively new to Buddhism, I hope it makes sense. For sure, I have much to learn, and with more practice, one day I might discover that my current views are naïve. 


With metta

:pray:

Sources plagiarised:
Yogacara (http://www.tamqui.com/buddhaworld/Yogacara)
Reincarnation: A Debate Batchelor v. Thurman. (http://www.tricycle.com/feature/3857-1.html?page=0,1)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on May 06, 2011, 08:27:34 pm
It’s just that the Buddha nature teachings are from a different stream to the Madhyamaka teachings of Nagarjuna, as found in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikāv (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way).  

The Buddha nature teachings are more aligned with the later Yogacara teachings of Asanga (Uttara Tantra Shastra) and Vasubandhu.  So, to me it seems unlikely that Nagarjuna would change horses mid-stream, and abandon his teachings on Shunyata, as found in the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.  Where he says the emptiness of all things i.e., all things, including the Buddha have no inherent existence (MMK 22:26).
I was under that impression also, but my education on the matter is very limited. Also this seems to be the Gelug position, which I've heard many times, so that is where I get my limited impression.


Quote
The Yogacara, along with the Madhyamaka, is one of the two principal schools of Indian Mahayana Buddhism.  Current debates among Tibetan schools between the Shentong (empty of other) versus Rangtong (empty of self) views appear similar to earlier debates between Yogācāra and Mādhyamaka, but the issues and distinctions have evolved further.
Currently the discussion (as it evolved in Tibet) is now between "Prasangika/Madhyamaka"=Rangtong vs. "Yogacara/Madhyamaka"=Shentong. So be careful on usage of terms, which can lead to additional confusion.

Quote
I think Stephen Batchelor nailed it, when he said “one of the most striking passages in Shantideva is the verse in which Shantideva says that the person who dies, and the person who is reborn, are other. And, therefore, the only valid motive that one can have for acting has to be compassion. There is no "you" who continues into a future life. "You" finish at death, and something else, another being is then born, like a parent giving birth to a child. That position takes the subject—me, the ego—out of the equation. The process of evolutionary change is not about me, Stephen Batchelor, but about what I can now do to improve the spiritual evolutionary advantage of those who come after my death. If you take the idea of otherness in this way, you no longer need to posit some personal consciousness that goes from one life to the next”.
I am not a credentialed expert, but my own personal interpretation of Shantideva's line is that one incarnation is different from another in the same way a butterfly is different from the caterpillar. Once the butterfly emerges the caterpillar is gone, never to return. In reincarnation, however, the cocoon stage is not seen, and the metamorphosis can result in any state.

As for no "you" going from one life to another, well that is just as true from one day to another, or from one moment to another. The "you" is a fiction, a misinterpretation, a mistaken way of experiencing your own nature.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 07, 2011, 07:35:53 am
i agree with the yogacara view that all is mind... if this mind is considered to be emptiness. however i think to say that buddha nature as subject and object is permanent is incorrect. perceptions of subject and perceptions of the world around us can be impermanent. perception is impermanent. therefore a concept of a 'special' buddha nature is overruled. mind itself may be dissolved under certain conditions. to speak of subject mind as buddha nature or as pure mind is fine as the yogacara do i believe, however this mind is not the buddha as so many have said (it is). the buddha is nameless and formless. to use the word 'mind' to speak of buddha is lower school and in my opinion is misleading.

there is not always awareness, awareness can cease under certain conditions. to call awareness Buddha or Buddha nature is to sully the buddha. the truth is found where there is nothing whatsoever to speak of, not even nothingness. though approaching nothingness is an important step in seeing the nameless, but only a step. being nameless, it is totally beyond all speech, and yet one can for a moment glimpse it before annihilation of the subject that observes it, the shining moon within.

having said that i agree with the yogacara 'all is mind', i have to say that i dont agree with their reification of buddha nature. i know that own nature exists as an appearance within and without and that in zen this seeing of own nature is called kensho (see/own nature ken/sho) or enlightenment. however since this own nature proves impermanent i cannot call it buddha nature. to speak of buddha nature may be misleading.

regards, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on May 07, 2011, 10:15:40 am
If I may I'd like to speak about things I am confused about. Hopefully that will prompt others that know more to correct me:

...however i think to say that buddha nature as subject and object is permanent is incorrect.
The teachings on Buddha Nature do not say that it has subject/object. However it is said to be permanent.

Quote
perceptions of subject and perceptions of the world around us can be impermanent. perception is impermanent. therefore a concept of a 'special' buddha nature is overruled. mind itself may be dissolved under certain conditions. to speak of subject mind as buddha nature or as pure mind is fine as the yogacara do i believe, however this mind is not the buddha as so many have said (it is). the buddha is nameless and formless. to use the word 'mind' to speak of buddha is lower school and in my opinion is misleading.
You are not alone in that assessment. It depends on which school you ascribe to.

Quote
there is not always awareness, awareness can cease under certain conditions. to call awareness Buddha or Buddha nature is to sully the buddha. the truth is found where there is nothing whatsoever to speak of, not even nothingness. though approaching nothingness is an important step in seeing the nameless, but only a step. being nameless, it is totally beyond all speech, and yet one can for a moment glimpse it before annihilation of the subject that observes it, the shining moon within.

having said that i agree with the yogacara 'all is mind', i have to say that i dont agree with their reification of buddha nature.
You seem an adherent of the Prasangika Madhyamaka. That's how you see things. That is the correct position for you!

Quote
i know that own nature exists as an appearance within and without and that in zen this seeing of own nature is called kensho (see/own nature ken/sho) or enlightenment.
I'm very unsure of Zen teachings, but that does not seem right to me.

Quote
however since this own nature proves impermanent i cannot call it buddha nature. to speak of buddha nature may be misleading.
Like I said, you seem an adherent of the Prasangika Madhyamaka.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on May 07, 2011, 04:41:56 pm
i agree with the yogacara view that all is mind... if this mind is considered to be emptiness. however i think to say that buddha nature as subject and object is permanent is incorrect. perceptions of subject and perceptions of the world around us can be impermanent. perception is impermanent. therefore a concept of a 'special' buddha nature is overruled. mind itself may be dissolved under certain conditions. to speak of subject mind as buddha nature or as pure mind is fine as the yogacara do i believe, however this mind is not the buddha as so many have said (it is). the buddha is nameless and formless. to use the word 'mind' to speak of buddha is lower school and in my opinion is misleading.

there is not always awareness, awareness can cease under certain conditions. to call awareness Buddha or Buddha nature is to sully the buddha. the truth is found where there is nothing whatsoever to speak of, not even nothingness. though approaching nothingness is an important step in seeing the nameless, but only a step. being nameless, it is totally beyond all speech, and yet one can for a moment glimpse it before annihilation of the subject that observes it, the shining moon within.

having said that i agree with the yogacara 'all is mind', i have to say that i dont agree with their reification of buddha nature. i know that own nature exists as an appearance within and without and that in zen this seeing of own nature is called kensho (see/own nature ken/sho) or enlightenment. however since this own nature proves impermanent i cannot call it buddha nature. to speak of buddha nature may be misleading.

regards, Tom.


Hi there White Lotus,

To help understand the Madhyamaka teachings I’d suggest going back to the source, the Prajñāpāramitā or the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom sutras.  There is much wisdom in the Heart and Diamond Sutras. 

Or even go back further to the Kaccayanagotta Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.than.html) on Right View (SN 12.15).

 with metta
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 09, 2011, 07:35:14 am
Sanatamonicaj and Francis...
i love the diamond sutra and the Heart of Perfection Wisdom Sutra, both are great. really great.

i know that own nature exists as an appearance within and without and that in zen this seeing of own nature is called kensho (see/own nature ken/sho) or enlightenment.

I'm very unsure of Zen teachings, but that does not seem right to me.


it was the teaching of the 6th Zen Patriarch Huineng that seeing own nature is enlightenment. own nature is seen within subject and object, both seen as the same essence. call it emptiness. however i argue that according to Master Keizan. there is a great Ichantika in whom buddha nature has ceased to be. there is no longer a subjective, no longer a within and this comes after directly perceiving the great pearl/moon within. i know it is said in the teaching that the buddha nature is permanent, but not always and not all agree with this position. Buddha nature or own nature is said to be in Soto Zen... The true self, and yet within this seeing is no i nor mine and so it is not the same as the apparent ego of normal people. however i still argue that subjective buddha nature is impermanent. by subjective i mean the ability to see within, having a within. an inner dimension. this inner dimension is exactly correspondent with the outer or objective world... seeing buddha nature it can be said that the within is no different from the without and it becomes possible to say that all is mind.  initially on seeing buddha nature there is a perception that oneself and all things are an emptiness.

interesting that you say my approach is similar to madhyamika especially since i have had no awareness of this being so. it goes to prove that experience is universal. to me, if there is a buddha nature it is suchness/tathata... the world as it is. but, even this is impermanent. seeing the middle way may not be seeing buddha natue. is there a permanent buddha nature? i am no longer convinced.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on May 09, 2011, 09:29:20 am
Quote
I'm very unsure of Zen teachings, but that does not seem right to me.
Quote
it was the teaching of the 6th Zen Patriarch Huineng that seeing own nature is enlightenment. own nature is seen within subject and object, both seen as the same essence. call it emptiness.
Thanks for the reference. That wording sounds more reasonable, if you can call Zen reasonable!

Quote
however i argue that according to Master Keizan. there is a great Ichantika in whom buddha nature has ceased to be. there is no longer a subjective, no longer a within and this comes after directly perceiving the great pearl/moon within. i know it is said in the teaching that the buddha nature is permanent, but not always and not all agree with this position.(formatting mine)

Boy you can say that again!


Quote
interesting that you say my approach is similar to madhyamika...
Just so you have clarity of terms, "madhyamaka" is a philosophy. "Madhyamika" is a person who adheres to that philosophy.

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on May 10, 2011, 05:50:59 am
Sanatamonicaj and Francis...
i love the diamond sutra and the Heart of Perfection Wisdom Sutra, both are great. really great.

i know that own nature exists as an appearance within and without and that in zen this seeing of own nature is called kensho (see/own nature ken/sho) or enlightenment.

I'm very unsure of Zen teachings, but that does not seem right to me.


it was the teaching of the 6th Zen Patriarch Huineng that seeing own nature is enlightenment. own nature is seen within subject and object, both seen as the same essence. call it emptiness. however i argue that according to Master Keizan. there is a great Ichantika in whom buddha nature has ceased to be. there is no longer a subjective, no longer a within and this comes after directly perceiving the great pearl/moon within. i know it is said in the teaching that the buddha nature is permanent, but not always and not all agree with this position. Buddha nature or own nature is said to be in Soto Zen... The true self, and yet within this seeing is no i nor mine and so it is not the same as the apparent ego of normal people. however i still argue that subjective buddha nature is impermanent. by subjective i mean the ability to see within, having a within. an inner dimension. this inner dimension is exactly correspondent with the outer or objective world... seeing buddha nature it can be said that the within is no different from the without and it becomes possible to say that all is mind.  initially on seeing buddha nature there is a perception that oneself and all things are an emptiness.

interesting that you say my approach is similar to madhyamika especially since i have had no awareness of this being so. it goes to prove that experience is universal. to me, if there is a buddha nature it is suchness/tathata... the world as it is. but, even this is impermanent. seeing the middle way may not be seeing buddha natue. is there a permanent buddha nature? i am no longer convinced.

best wishes, Tom.


Hi White Lotus,

I read where Huineng said "In the midst of all good and evil, not a thought is aroused in the mind - this is called Sitting. Seeing into one's original nature, not being moved at all - this is called Ch'an."        Is there a permanent Buddha nature? I don't know.  You could look at earlier teachings.  There is a very good article that examines this question, called Freedom From Buddha Nature, (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/freedomfrombuddhanature.html) by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.


with metta

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 11, 2011, 09:54:24 am
thank you Santamonicaj and Francis. it is interesting to see that there is disagreement over buddha nature. i tend to go by experience in what i say.

Hui neng (Wei Lang), the sixth patriarch said... "neither thinking good, nor thinking evil, what is your original face?"
when we clear the mind of all thoughs then we see the buddha nature just as it is. its like looking in a mirror on a dark night. what do you see?... your original face. or likewise practicing Chan/zazen meditation one directly sees the original face. theres nothing in it. anyone can see this 'original face'. buddha nature. when one becomes clearly aware of his 'own nature' it can be said that the world within is continuous with the world around him/her. some have said that this 'Mind' is 'emptiness'.

Thanks for the clarification Santamonicaj. Madhyamaka/Madhyamika.

Francis, i will read the article by Thanissara Bhikku. Appreciated.


best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 12, 2011, 07:29:59 am
Francis, i read the Thanissaro Bhikku essay. it seems to me that there is a buddha nature, but that it is impermanent... and if its impermanent can we call it a buddha nature? I believe in the Mahayana teachings that Siddharta Buddha was pointing towards Buddha nature. this seems clear for example in the Nirvana Sutra where he says that even a tenth stage boddhisatva has no clear apprehension of Buddha nature. in Madyamaka I guess that to reify a buddha nature would be unhelpful because whatever we can say misses the ultimate point.

it seems that Thanissaro Bhikku does not believe in a Buddha nature, i guess that is because it could be seen as some sort of 'self' fabrication. even though there is no identity of 'I' or 'mine' in buddha nature. my hands are not my hands, my feet are not my feet. no experience of 'I' ness whatsoever. only subject identity. experience of a body.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on May 13, 2011, 06:22:17 am
Francis, i read the Thanissaro Bhikku essay. it seems to me that there is a buddha nature, but that it is impermanent... and if its impermanent can we call it a buddha nature? I believe in the Mahayana teachings that Siddharta Buddha was pointing towards Buddha nature. this seems clear for example in the Nirvana Sutra where he says that even a tenth stage boddhisatva has no clear apprehension of Buddha nature. in Madyamaka I guess that to reify a buddha nature would be unhelpful because whatever we can say misses the ultimate point.

it seems that Thanissaro Bhikku does not believe in a Buddha nature, i guess that is because it could be seen as some sort of 'self' fabrication. even though there is no identity of 'I' or 'mine' in buddha nature. my hands are not my hands, my feet are not my feet. no experience of 'I' ness whatsoever. only subject identity. experience of a body.

best wishes, Tom.

Hi White Lotus,

I think Thanissaro Bhikku is saying all of that in the essay. But he is also says that it’s about choice, and freedom, and freedom from kamma:

“Past kamma is not entirely deterministic. Even though past kamma shapes the range of options open to the mind in the present, it doesn't have to determine present kamma — the intentions by which the mind chooses to fabricate actual experiences from among those options. 

The Buddha was simply saying that the mind, once stained, is not permanently stained. When the conditions for the stains are gone, the mind becomes luminous again. But this luminosity is not an awakened nature. As the Buddha states, this luminous mind can be developed.  After this luminosity has been developed in the advanced stages of concentration, it's abandoned once it has completed its work in helping to pierce through ignorance.

Thus, in encouraging people to awaken, the Buddha never assumed that their Awakening would come from the innate goodness of their nature. He simply assumed something very blatant and ordinary: that people like pleasure and hate pain, and that they care about whether they can gain that pleasure and avoid that pain. It was a mark of his genius that he could see the potential for Awakening in this very common desire.

This is why the Buddha never advocated attributing an innate nature of any kind to the mind — good, bad, or Buddha. The idea of innate natures slipped into the Buddhist tradition in later centuries, when the principle of freedom was forgotten. That past kamma doesn't totally shape the present, and that present kamma can always be free to choose the skillful alternative — you realize that the idea of innate natures is unnecessary: excess baggage on the path.”


With metta
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 16, 2011, 12:01:04 pm
Francis, freedom from karma, freedom from causality. the goal of buddhism... thus one is free from suffering. one is unconditioned by any experience within or outside themselves. but, yes i agree that past karma is not something that cannot be dealt with using skillful means.

in Thanissaro Bhiku's talk he says that when asked who he is, the buddha replies ''I am awakened''. i think this is the crux of the matter. when he focuses on his awareness of objects and things or when he focuses within he has the energizing experience of being fully awake. i find that when i examine my awareness, it is normal. there is still the sensation that all is illusory... however to an awakened one it all seems very real, sharply in focus and present right here and right now.

the Patriarch of Soto Zen, Master Keizan in the last paragraph of his monumental book, the Denkoroku says (paraphrased): it is like waking from a dream, vivid alertness, it is only that one feels very awake [all the time in the waking state].

Perhaps after all this talk of normative awareness, one ought to be aware that the experience that Siddharta spoke of was not normative, not normal at all, rather a direct dazzling perception of all reality. he was quite literally ''Awakened''! not only that, but the illusory reality spoken of in the Lankavatara sutra, can be perceived as entirely real. or at least certainly not ''unreal''.

interesting hey?!

best wishes, Tom.

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on May 18, 2011, 03:14:38 am
Francis, freedom from karma, freedom from causality. the goal of buddhism... thus one is free from suffering. one is unconditioned by any experience within or outside themselves. but, yes i agree that past karma is not something that cannot be dealt with using skillful means.

Hi White Lotus,

The bit I got from the essay was– “past kamma is not entirely deterministic”.  That kamma doesn't have to shape the range of options open to the mind. Often the mind chooses to fabricate options from actual experiences.  However, we can use skilful means, as described in the eightfold path, to understand how the mind fabricates stuff and free ourselves from kamma.     
 
Quote from: White Lotus
in Thanissaro Bhiku's talk he says that when asked who he is, the buddha replies ''I am awakened''. i think this is the crux of the matter. when he focuses on his awareness of objects and things or when he focuses within he has the energizing experience of being fully awake. i find that when i examine my awareness, it is normal. there is still the sensation that all is illusory... however to an awakened one it all seems very real, sharply in focus and present right here and right now.

I think you are right about awareness being the crux of the matter.  Though, for most people it takes a lot of work to become awake.  Mental development in the eightfold path includes meditation.  Vipassana (insight) and Dhyāna (stopping and seeing) meditations are common practices for improving awareness.  In particular, the 10 day Vipassana meditation course is recommended by many. 

the Patriarch of Soto Zen, Master Keizan in the last paragraph of his monumental book, the Denkoroku says (paraphrased): it is like waking from a dream, vivid alertness, it is only that one feels very awake [all the time in the waking state].
Perhaps after all this talk of normative awareness, one ought to be aware that the experience that Siddharta spoke of was not normative, not normal at all, rather a direct dazzling perception of all reality. he was quite literally ''Awakened''! not only that, but the illusory reality spoken of in the Lankavatara sutra, can be perceived as entirely real. or at least certainly not ''unreal''.

interesting hey?!

best wishes, Tom.


The Patriarch of Soto Zen, Master Keizan said it well – “living all the time in the waking state”.  That’s true and something to aim for, but for most of us it takes a lot of work.  At the moment I’m reading Ken McLeod’s book Wake Up to Your Life. (http://www.amazon.com/Wake-Your-Life-Discovering-Attention/dp/0062516817#reader_0062516817) He has a very pragmatic approach to the eightfold path and meditation. It’s well worth reading, if you are interested in that approach. 

I’m not sure about the Lankavatara sutra, some parts of it are contradictory and difficult to understand.  Red Pine has a new translation coming out soon, sans the Sagathakam.  It will be interesting to see how it reads.   


with metta

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: zerwe on May 18, 2011, 05:44:33 am
If I may I'd like to speak about things I am confused about. Hopefully that will prompt others that know more to correct me:

...however i think to say that buddha nature as subject and object is permanent is incorrect.
The teachings on Buddha Nature do not say that it has subject/object. However it is said to be permanent.

I am only just learning about this, but I believe that this notion of permanence is considered mistaken and is refuted in that Buddha nature would fall into the category of non-compositional factors (non-compositional existence).

Shaun :namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 18, 2011, 07:45:55 am
Francis, thank you for the book reccommendation. it seems to me that awakening would involve a turning over of the mind as mentioned in the lankavatara sutra. the culmination of many mental turnings over.

Shaun, to speak of the Buddha nature is not easy, however it is seen clearly by one who sees it. i would say that Buddha nature is the same within one as it is without one. subject and object both being the same. however in my experience, awareness is not permanent. either of the nature within or the nature without. it is an awareness of raw awareness and all things are manifestations of awareness, therefore they all have the same taste... some call it emptiness, others call it mind. but really, both of these are the same sameness. when Emptiness/ or mind is tasted there is a sameness to all things. for example: when i look at the computer screen for a while and then at the keyboard, both are experienced as fundamentally the same mental sensation. the fabric of Mind or Emptiness as it may be called. however falling into descriptive names is not always very helpful.

i dont know shaun whether this answers your point, probably not. but this is a very interesting discussion.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on May 18, 2011, 07:53:40 am
Quote
Quote
If I may I'd like to speak about things I am confused about. Hopefully that will prompt others that know more to correct me:

Quote
...however i think to say that buddha nature as subject and object is permanent is incorrect.

The teachings on Buddha Nature do not say that it has subject/object. However it is said to be permanent.


I am only just learning about this, but I believe that this notion of permanence is considered mistaken and is refuted in that Buddha nature would fall into the category of non-compositional factors (non-compositional existence).
The Prasangika Madyamikas do not accept the idea of a permanent, real Buddha Nature. When they speak of their position as being a "non-affirming negation" what they are specifically NOT affirming is this permanent Buddha Nature. However the Yogacara Madyamikas say that since it is never manifest that it cannot be negated by that reasoning.

So there is no consensus on the subject, even among the scholars that study and debate the subject for the better part of their lives. There are two different opinions, so you'll get two different answers depending on who you talk to. The debate has been going on for centuries, and it will continue long after we are gone. There is no right answer.

So for those of us that have a limited time to devote to Dharma it is simply a matter of taste and personal preference. Which position makes sense to you? Which one allows you to proceed with your meditation practice with least frustration and most confidence? It is an entirely personal matter.*


*Unless you are practicing Sutrayana Mahamudra, in which case you've pretty much got to take the Prasangika position as a support for your practice.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: zerwe on May 18, 2011, 08:45:31 am
Francis, thank you for the book reccommendation. it seems to me that awakening would involve a turning over of the mind as mentioned in the lankavatara sutra. the culmination of many mental turnings over.

Shaun, to speak of the Buddha nature is not easy, however it is seen clearly by one who sees it. i would say that Buddha nature is the same within one as it is without one. subject and object both being the same. however in my experience, awareness is not permanent. either of the nature within or the nature without. it is an awareness of raw awareness and all things are manifestations of awareness, therefore they all have the same taste... some call it emptiness, others call it mind. but really, both of these are the same sameness. when Emptiness/ or mind is tasted there is a sameness to all things. for example: when i look at the computer screen for a while and then at the keyboard, both are experienced as fundamentally the same mental sensation. the fabric of Mind or Emptiness as it may be called. however falling into descriptive names is not always very helpful.

i dont know shaun whether this answers your point, probably not. but this is a very interesting discussion.

best wishes, Tom.

Hi, White Lotus.. I do have such an understanding, but thanks for your explanation. What I am curious about is the idea of three types of existence and I believe Buddha Nature falls into the category of being considered non-compositional.

Shaun
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 21, 2011, 07:25:38 am
Thank you for your helpful post Santamonicaj.
Shaun, i am new to the teaching of Madhyamaka and am unaware of teachings of three types of existence. albeit, from contact with other people i am inclined to think that there is a perception of illusory existence, and to the awakened one, experience of things becoming truly real. though philosophically i would say that existence is neither real nor false. it just is.

buddha nature is non compositional, but there is an awareness of this 'nature' within one, that nature can cease to be, leaving one completely without subject. this is know when the awareness ceases, but is also known before its cessation.
it is non compositional, because it is empty even of emptiness. still it will cease if one sees the moon within which can only be seen when you realise that which is not anything, nor nothing.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on May 25, 2011, 09:09:00 am
I am puzzled in a way, this is since the majority accord with the heart sutra and say that there is nothing to attain or be attained in enlightenment... that normative awareness is enlightenment/awakening. on the other hand one or two affirm that there is an awakened mind that is very awake.

is awakening the awareness that all is illusory, and actually experiencing that. realizing that in order to be awake one must recognise the dreamlike quality of reality/awareness, that in a way awakening is realizing that one is asleep, or in the dreamlike state of maya.

or... becoming vividly awake, at least on one occasion, or perhaps permanently and seeing the solidity of all things.

yun men said that it should be left to posterity that everyone is liberated. ie that in a way, that which is most special is in many ways completely normal. that this supremely normal existence is in itself awakening when one realizes this.

any ideas.

vivid state, or rigpa, mundane awareness?

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on May 25, 2011, 02:51:26 pm

any ideas.

vivid state, or rigpa, mundane awareness?

best wishes, Tom.


"original mind"
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: swampflower on May 26, 2011, 04:49:10 pm
Endless dance
Now here
Now gone
This empty now
So sublime
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 04, 2011, 11:57:31 am
Original mind could be seen as this mind just as it is... this is it. right here right now, this is it.

or original mind could be something that one after searching can see for oneself.

in Zen it is clear from the majority of teaching that ultimately "ordinary mind is the way." the ultimate. and yet there is teaching of being very awake. i would speculate that this state of heightened awareness is a temporary state, but i am not sure.

observing the mind, i see emptiness?, focusing on it is slippery like skating on ice, nothing to hold onto... this is why it is difficult to focus mind on mind, like the eye that observes seeing itself. mind seeing mind.

is it awakening 'to' the mind (seeing its nature), or awakening 'of' the mind? possibly both?

Endless dance
Now here
Now gone
This empty now
So sublime

emptiness dropped,
dancing ended, the dancing begins.
will it ever end?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 04, 2011, 12:02:12 pm
Original mind could be seen as this mind just as it is... this is it. right here right now, this is it.

or original mind could be something that one after searching can see for oneself.
My own take on this is that 'enlightenment' (whatever that is) is retroactive. Once you become enlightened you can see that it was there all the time. Before you become enlightened, you can't see it at all.

I've not had that as a teaching, I just made it up. It is my interpretation of the story of Asanga and Maitreya. So if it a valid interpretation it would be more the Yogacara/Shentong view than Madhyamaka.

But it sounds good! :wink1:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on June 04, 2011, 12:16:24 pm
Original mind could be seen as this mind just as it is... this is it. right here right now, this is it.

or original mind could be something that one after searching can see for oneself.
My own take on this is that 'enlightenment', whatever that is, is retroactive. Once you become enlightened you can see that it was there all the time. Before you become enlightened, you can't see it at all.

I have not had that as a teaching, I just made it up. It is my interpretation of the story of Asanga and Maitreya. So if it a valid interpretation it would be more the Yogacara/Shentong view than Madhyamaka.

But it sounds good! :wink1:

Yes, whether the path is revealtory or developmental, it comes to the same - being awake to the ultimate truth and only then seeing all things as they really exist.

It takes faith, IMHO, to believe it to be attainable and strive towards what we cannot sense or fully internalise.

Sometimes I think of it through the '3 Poisons' of Anger, Desirous Attachment, and Ignorance (of the nature of Emptiness).

We can make progress in reducing our anger and attachment as we are.

However, once there is a realisaiton that there is no 'Self' and 'other' then logically we cannot be attached to it, to its objects, or become angry because of it.

I think that probably applies to Yogacara/Shentong as well as Madhyamaka Prasangika.

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 05, 2011, 02:12:26 am
Original mind could be seen as this mind just as it is... this is it. right here right now, this is it.

or original mind could be something that one after searching can see for oneself.

in Zen it is clear from the majority of teaching that ultimately "ordinary mind is the way." the ultimate. and yet there is teaching of being very awake. i would speculate that this state of heightened awareness is a temporary state, but i am not sure.

observing the mind, i see emptiness?, focusing on it is slippery like skating on ice, nothing to hold onto... this is why it is difficult to focus mind on mind, like the eye that observes seeing itself. mind seeing mind.

is it awakening 'to' the mind (seeing its nature), or awakening 'of' the mind? possibly both?


Hi White Lotus, good comments.

I think there are a couple of subjects here. The first is the concept of original mind. The second of being very awake and observing the mind seems to be concerned with meditation.  I’ll add a few comments on original mind, however observing the mind and heightened awareness come with meditation practice. Meditation is not my forte, but I’m working on it ;)  

My take on original mind is it’s another way of describing anatta (empty of self). The original self is the core of your being, before conditioning, free from defilements (ie. Buddha nature).  Well that’s my take, others explain it better:

Huineng (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huineng)

Bodhi is fundamentally without any tree;
The bright mirror is also not a stand.
Fundamentally there is not a single thing —
Where could any dust be attracted?

One night, Hongren received Huineng in his abode, and expounded the Diamond Sutra to him. When he came to the passage, "to use the mind yet be free from any attachment," Huineng came to great enlightenment—that all dharmas are inseparable from the self nature. He exclaimed, "How amazing that the self nature is originally pure! How amazing that the self nature is unborn and undying! How amazing that the self nature is inherently complete! How amazing that the self nature neither moves nor stays! How amazing that all dharmas come from this self nature!"

Hongren told Huineng, "If one recognizes the original mind and the original nature, he is called a great man, teacher of gods and humans, and a Buddha." He passed the robe and begging bowl as a symbol of the Dharma Seal of Sudden Enlightenment to Huineng.

For more information, I suggest reading Buddha Nature (http://www.unfetteredmind.org/articles/nature.php) one of a number of articles by Ken McLeod, who I’m currently reading.

After the awareness that there is nothing other than mind
Comes the understanding that mind, too, is nothing itself.
The intelligent know that these two understandings are not things.
And then, not holding onto even this knowledge, they come to rest in the realm of totality.


cheers :)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 06, 2011, 05:30:47 am
My own take on this is that 'enlightenment' (whatever that is) is retroactive. Once you become enlightened you can see that it was there all the time. Before you become enlightened, you can't see it at all.

thats most certainly the case with Own/Original/Buddha nature! very clearly put.


Yes, whether the path is revealtory or developmental, it comes to the same - being awake to the ultimate truth and only then seeing all things as they really exist.
seeing Buddha nature one sees the continuity of all things, their oneness, and yet it is hard to describe... is it emptiness, it seems to be. the emptiness of all things. honestly its beyond description and yet, youve got it even now as you read this post. normal mind is buddha nature, normal perception, normal awareness. everyday mind is the site of enlightenment. extrordinary things happen within the ordinary field of mundane mind. if the middle way can be perceived, this perception is also within the mundane awareness. (its truly extrodinary).

After the awareness that there is nothing other than mind
Comes the understanding that mind, too, is nothing itself.
The intelligent know that these two understandings are not things.
And then, not holding onto even this knowledge, they come to rest in the realm of totality.


very nice! whose teaching?

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 06, 2011, 05:37:09 am
im beginning to think that ordinary mind is buddha nature and know that this ordinary mind is every day and yet within it we grow and perceive extrodinary things such as the middle way. revelatory truths and mundane truth coexist.

best wishes, Tom.

the bad news is that the mind must be developed in order to perceive the remarkable. the good news is that many of these treasures are simply hidden in the ordinary mind and are as every day as a glass of tap water.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 12, 2011, 06:53:52 am
I want to just say, in ending this thread, if indeed this is its end that i believe seeing buddha nature, the emptiness of ordinary mind (the emptiness of this buddha nature) as very important. if not utterly crucial. i also believe that the dharma eye spoken of in Zen is the seeing of original nature.

i am concerned that some of the things i have said in this thread may detract from the utter importance of seeing buddha nature. (in my own experience, for whatever thats worth.)

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 12, 2011, 11:12:54 am
I want to just say, in ending this thread, if indeed this is its end that i believe seeing buddha nature, the emptiness of ordinary mind (the emptiness of this buddha nature) as very important. if not utterly crucial. i also believe that the dharma eye spoken of in Zen is the seeing of original nature.

i am concerned that some of the things i have said in this thread may detract from the utter importance of seeing buddha nature. (in my own experience, for whatever thats worth.)
Just a linguistic/semantic clarification; Buddha Nature can never be "seen". It cannot become an object of consciousness, anymore than your retina can "see" itself, although it is what you use to see anything and everything else.

However if you remove the adventitious defilements through meditation practices it can find full expression and thus be "realized".

But those are all just words anyway... :twocents:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: catmoon on June 12, 2011, 07:48:06 pm
Just a linguistic/semantic clarification; Buddha Nature can never be "seen". It cannot become an object of consciousness, anymore than your retina can "see" itself, although it is what you use to see anything and everything else.

However if you remove the adventitious defilements through meditation practices it can find full expression and thus be "realized".

But those are all just words anyway... :twocents:

Hmm. What about seeing the Buddha Nature of others? Is that possible?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 12, 2011, 08:17:37 pm
Just a linguistic/semantic clarification; Buddha Nature can never be "seen". It cannot become an object of consciousness, anymore than your retina can "see" itself, although it is what you use to see anything and everything else.

However if you remove the adventitious defilements through meditation practices it can find full expression and thus be "realized".

But those are all just words anyway... :twocents:

Hmm. What about seeing the Buddha Nature of others? Is that possible?
I am under the impression no. "Not eve a Buddha can see mind", etc.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 16, 2011, 07:42:58 am
im sorry to sound cheeky Santamonicaj, but i can see mind, it is all things, and logically speaking this 'all things' is completely nothing. i am a sleep walker, that knows he is dreaming. i see the mind within me and i see the mind around me. the same. one. i have quite literally seen mind, but it is very difficult to focus on, perhaps this is since it is nothing.

when i speak to a person, i can see that he is one with me, he is perfect mind, pure buddha nature... he exists as a dream. i am a dream and i know this! there is no difference in the dreams i sleep and in my waking moment. all a dream.

there are many realizations, but as Wei Lang (Hui Neng) the sixth patriarch taught, one cannot rely on any form of practice or realization, however profound it may be. true Buddhism is without realization. it is to realize that ultimately there is nothing to realize. the base of the mountain and its summit, are both empty. when one gets to the top of a 100 ft pole, one comes back down it. the beginning is the end, the end is found in the beginning. its just that after journeying one has changed, but profoundly, nothing is realized, not even nothing.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 18, 2011, 06:10:10 pm
Hi,

That's an interesting infusion of Yogacara with Madhyamika Tom, in fact, it is interesting that you mention Huineng because he is often credited with uniting the two approaches, even though he himself was 'coming' from the second perspective, i.e. Southern Ch'an.

I.e. that the ineffable reality posited by the Madhyamika is the same as the the 'pure buddha nature' or consciousness/mind. With Madhyamika only, there is no mind.

Out of curiosity, in what language is 'Wei Lang' the name of Hui Neng?

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 19, 2011, 12:32:26 am
I.e. that the ineffable reality posited by the Madhyamika is the same as the the 'pure buddha nature' or consciousness/mind. With Madhyamika only, there is no mind.
I am of the understanding that the Prasangika Madhymaka (Rantong) does not posit "an ineffable reality". When the Gelugpas describe their position as "a non-affirming negation" what they are specifically not affirming is any such reality.

The Yogacara Madhyamaka (Shentong) however does posit an ineffable "pure Buddha Nature" as a basis for reality.

At least that is my understanding at this point. I'm still a little confused about where Yogacara (i.e. Cittamatra) leaves off and the Yogacara Madhyamaka synthesis (i.e. Shentong) picks up however. I'm just glad I don't have to understand it in order to pay the rent.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 19, 2011, 06:04:46 am
Yes, the position of Ch'an synthesis is essentially equivalent to Shentongpa.

Whereas by ineffable is indeed implied not affirmed in any way whatsoever.

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 19, 2011, 07:50:46 am
Ben, its all just experience. there are different names, but the same experience. yes, there is No mind. but it helps to talk of mind sometimes.

Hui Neng once saw two monks arguing... is it the flag that is moving or the wind? wei lang overheard and said... no brothers it is neither the wind nor the flag... it is mind that is moving.

in his famous gatha (poem) he is quoting as having said... from the beginning there is not a single thing (anywhere).

so, though there is talk of mind it is not in accord specifically with prajna paramita, however this mind is not a thing. it is only an appearance. hence we call it Wu Hsin/Mu Shin... No mind. there is no mind whatsoever, no forms, no functions... only appearance. it is all like a dream, a movie show. no more no less.

I rather cheekily said to Santamonikaj (respects) that i can see mind.
i will try now to describe how i see mind. and it must be mentioned that if mind could not be seen directly there would never have arisen a mind school:

first of all all objects are mind/emptiness/illusory. if you focus on an object you will with time be able to taste its consciousness. its very nature and substance, which is no nature and no substance. but the appearance is there, you can learn to taste mind/emptiness in objects. for me, that comes with ease and is natural.

secondly, you can focus your mind on emptiness/objects and analyse that emptiness. is it awake or not. actually, i wouldnt speak of being awake, but i would speak of being aware. one can become aware of the flavour or taste of emptiness. it is luminescent and clear. refreshing sometimes.

Santamonicaj, i am genuinely fascinated by the quote you mention... "even a Buddha cannot see mind". where do you quote from, is it from the Buddha Siddharta, or one of the patriarchs. it raises the question of patriarchal teachings which are sometimes meant to go beyond basic buddhahood.

best wishes, Tom.

(ps, an old friend would call Hui Neng, Wei Lang. would think it was mandarin or a sub dialect of.)

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 19, 2011, 08:06:40 am
The Yogacara Madhyamaka (Shentong) however does posit an ineffable "pure Buddha Nature" as a basis for reality.

if a Nature is posited, then there must be a self essence. this is hetrodox. there is no self essence nor is there any kind of nature, though we speak of a nature, it is only a finger pointing at the moon.

fundamentally, i speculate that for one who truly sees, there will be no difference found in the teachings of Mind or Emptiness. both are just names for the same thing. Prasangika Madhyamaka recognises this, that it is not helpful to elaborate on the experience of emptiness. infact, even to talk of emptiness is not always helpful, we talk of No thing at all, not a thing, not even nothingness. and all things are this 'not a thing'. there are no grades of emptiness, purer or finer, all is just this emptiness and nothing else. it does not exist and i speculate that the true enlightenment if there is one is to recognise that there is No enlightenment, no buddha, nothing, not even nothing and yet this 'not a thing' conditions our daily life. before our eyes appear pedestrians, shops, streets, houses, concret. grey, green, blue, the myriad forms and phenomena are just as they are. these are all empty. the words i am typing here are pure emptiness... the fundamental. you cant get away from the fundamental, nor can you defile it.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 19, 2011, 09:35:19 am
Santamonicaj, i am genuinely fascinated by the quote you mention... "even a Buddha cannot see mind". where do you quote from, is it from the Buddha Siddharta, or one of the patriarchs. it raises the question of patriarchal teachings which are sometimes meant to go beyond basic buddhahood.
It permeates Tibetan teachings on Mahamudra and Dzogchen. I'll have to rumble around and see if I can find a specific reference.

Tibetan teachings do not usually quote the Pali Canon, so it will probably not be a Buddha Sakyamuni quote.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 19, 2011, 11:55:37 am
(a continuation from my immediately previous post)

Additionally it is said in the philosophical texts that if Buddha Nature could be taken as an object of consciousness it would have to be deemed self-empty by Prasangika Madhyamaka (Rangtong) reasoning, just like every other manifest phenomena. Since it cannot be taken as an object it can be said to have valid existence, i.e. be empty-of-(anything)-other than its own pure existence (Shentong).

The idea being that when the "adventitious defilements" are removed that it has the ability to shine forth in an uncontaminated way and is experienced as "enlightenment". With the adventitious defilements in place it still shines forth, but in a corrupted fashion, and becomes our normal day-to-day experience.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 19, 2011, 03:12:58 pm
Tom,

In fact, I was only pointing out that from Nagarjuna's point of view the consciousness which some Abhidhammikas and later Yogacarins posited would fall into the category of self-causation (svata utpatti), so on the contrary there is no mind for Nagarjuna.

What santamonicacj describes in the previous post is the perfect example of how one could go from the rejection of all theses pertaining to phenomenality, to the conclusion of the conception of the Absolute or Ultimate Reality (paramartha) revealed by removing defilements, which at the same time is inexpressible (anirvacaniya). That is not, however, to affirm the Madhyamika claim which I believe is invalid because the apagogic proof depends upon sensuous intuition or at least adequate representation - that is not to say that their critiques aren't very useful.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 19, 2011, 03:35:38 pm
What santamonicacj describes in the previous post is the perfect example of how one could go from the rejection of all theses pertaining to phenomenality, to the conclusion of the conception of the Absolute or Ultimate Reality (paramartha) revealed by removing defilements, which at the same time is inexpressible (anirvacaniya). That is not, however, to affirm the Madhyamika claim which I believe is invalid because the apagogic proof depends upon sensuous intuition or at least adequate representation - that is not to say that their critiques aren't very useful.
Could you put that into English?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 19, 2011, 07:12:06 pm
Haha, santamonicacj I shall try.

Prasangika Madhyamika's conclusion is supported by the rejection of positions (apogogic proof).

Rejection of positions does not give you a positive conclusion unless the conclusion is known empirically or can be represented with words.

So the conclusion is meaningless - Chandrakirti would only be able to agree with this point, but does not state it outright.

In fact, the rejection of positions approach in Buddhism usually cites the Buddha's refusal to answer the fourteen unanswered questions as precedent. Of course this is because the questions are invalid and based upon a misunderstanding of the nature of knowledge. Elsewhere the Buddha certainly provides what a run of the mill person would consider an adequate answer to most of the fourteen questions.

And of course, like I said before, that is not to say that their critiques aren't very useful.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 19, 2011, 10:06:07 pm
Prasangika Madhyamika's conclusion is supported by the rejection of positions (apogogic proof).
What do you mean by P.Mdmk.'s "conclusion"? As presented by the Gelug tradition, they say that P.Mdmk. is a rejection of all views, and is therefore without a view--or conclusion--unless you mean something different, which is not clear. You would do better to say, "P.Mdmk's lack of conclusion or view is supported by apogogic proof."

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Rejection of positions does not give you a positive conclusion...
Right, just like the Gelugpas say,...

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...unless the conclusion is known empirically or can be represented with words.
Are you using "empirically" to mean through the senses, or through experience? If you mean through the senses, and therefore can be taken as an object of consciousness, P.Mdmk takes everything to be self-empty. Anything that can be thought of as an "empirical conclusion" (using the definition of empirical as "through the senses") is included as having the self-empty nature and is dismissed by the P.Mdmk.

Yogic experience, on the other hand, is not through the senses yet is experiential. So if you are using this sense of empirical then you are no longer talking about  P.Mdmk., but are most likely talking about Yogacara Madhyamaka (Shentong). But again, it is not at all clear that this is what you mean.

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So the conclusion is meaningless
Again, what conclusion? What are you trying to say? Are you agreeing with Nagarjuna's rejection of positions, or are you positing your own position as a perspective on Nagarjuna's thought, or are you agreeing with the Shentong position with its positive conclusion? It is not at all clear.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 19, 2011, 10:46:45 pm
That is why in the original paragraph I used the Sanskrit term which Nagarjuna uses to refer to the ultimate reality in the Karikas, paramartha. Ultimate reality cannot be communicated using the conventional (samvrti).

Nagarjuna replies to the objection that this would make the four noble truths impossible with a dialectic based upon the equality of conditionality with emptiness. All things are conditioned and therefore empty. There is nothing which is not conditioned and therefore nothing which is empty. If there is anything that is not empty it cannot be conditioned. Therefore if one accepts the lack of emptiness one accepts nonconditionality, and thus has to reject arising and cessation. Therefore, if one does not accept arising and cessation one cannot accept the four noble truths.

The question is, if Nagarjuna accepts arising and cessation in the Ratnavali then why reject them in the Karikas? His argument is that since nothing is substantial because it is conditioned and thus non-evident as substance then conditionality is not possible on the basis of "when this exists, that exists."

The answer is that from the conventional: conditionality is valid, but in the ultimate it is invalid, i.e. he rejects conditionality with the rejection of substantiality. As you know Paramartha is later termed variously tathata, dharmakaya, tathagata, tattva, and satya. So there is a position/conclusion even when there isn't - which is definately because it is based upon apagogic proof.

As Nagarjuna says in the Karika's opening with a combination of both truths:
I salute him, the fully enlightened, the best of speakers, who preached the doctrine of dependent arising, which is the pacification of conceptual proliferation, which is peaceful, nonceasing, nonarising, without annihilation, noneternal, not one, not many, nonappearing, nondisappearing.

Edit: I noticed you updated your post. To answer your question, I am explaining what Nagarjuna's 'conclusion' is. It's more of an exposition than an agreement.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 19, 2011, 10:53:38 pm
That is why in the original paragraph I used the Sanskrit term which Nagarjuna uses to refer to the ultimate reality in the Karikas, paramartha. Ultimate reality cannot be communicated using the conventional (samvrti).

Nagarjuna replies to the objection that this would make the four noble truths impossible with a dialectic based upon the equality of conditionality with emptiness. All things are conditioned and therefore empty. There is nothing which is not conditioned and therefore nothing which is
...not...
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empty. If there is anything that is not empty it cannot be conditioned. Therefore if one accepts the lack of emptiness one accepts nonconditionality
Who accepted this lack of emptiness? By what reasoning?
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, and thus has to reject arising and cessation. Therefore, if one does not accept arising and cessation one cannot accept the four noble truths.
This paragraph seems quite confused.

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The question is, if Nagarjuna accepts arising and cessation in the Ratnavali then why reject them in the Karikas? His argument is that since nothing is substantial because it is conditioned and thus non-evident as substance then conditionality is not possible on the basis of "when this exists, that exists."
I am unfamiliar with how the idea "when this exists, that exists" as being somehow incompatible with conditionality. It is not evident to me.

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The answer is that from the conventional: conditionality is valid, but in the ultimate it is invalid, i.e. he rejects conditionality with the rejection of substantiality.
This is back to what I know to be the Gelug presentation. But how are you using "substantiality", as in a discernible essence, not self-empty?
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As you know Paramartha is later termed variously tathata, dharmakaya, tathagata, tattva, and satya. So there is a position/conclusion even when there isn't.
I am used to seeing this term in the Shentong literature, not Nagarjuna.

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As Nagarjuna says in the Karika's opening with a combination of both truths:
I salute him, the fully enlightened, the best of speakers, who preached the doctrine of dependent arising, which is the pacification of conceptual proliferation, which is peaceful, nonceasing, nonarising, without annihilation, noneternal, not one, not many, nonappearing, nondisappearing.

Edit: I noticed you updated your post. To answer your question, I am explaining what Nagarjuna's 'conclusion' is. It's more of an exposition than an agreement.
So in short; you are saying that you think Nargajuna does posit an "Ultimate Reality", right? (Which is contrary to the Gelug presentations I have heard on the subject.) Is that what you mean when you are talking about Paramartha?

Along the same lines Tashi Nyima a while back referenced "In Praise of Dharmadhatu" as an example of Nagarjuna positing an Ultimate Reality. Consequently I bought a copy online and I am still waiting for it to show up.

I personally don't see a problem with positing an "Ultimate Reality" or "Ultimate Truth". I'm just no used to seeing Nargajuna's name associated with it.
*****

At this point I think I should say that 95% of my exposure to P.Mdmk. is through the Gelug camp, and therefore any prejudices they may have I have also. I am told that their version is slightly odd compared to earlier schools idea of P.Mdmk, but I liked the Gelug oddness, so I dismissed any other historical perspectives without any real investigation. So a fresh reading of Nargarjuna could easily read differently than what I've been told.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 20, 2011, 05:36:34 am
It seems to me you are trying to look from a Gelug point of view, in fact I am not familiar with their approach, but if you go to the primary sources, i.e. Karikas and Ratnavali you will find this line of reasoning.
Quote
I am used to seeing this term in the Shentong literature, not Nagarjuna.
Well there's your problem. This is used in the Karikas.

But I don't find it surprising that later philosophers would pick up on this approach and try to iron it out -> Of course you then have the difficulty which arises as a result of the rejection of the two truths, which is that the four noble truths would be completely false and not even provisionally true. You see if there is no conditional truth then you would know only ultimate truth. So you may perhaps see why Nagarjuna thought this necessary.
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This is back to what I know to be the Gelug presentation. But how are you using "substantiality", as in a discernible essence, not self-empty?
As far as I knew Gelug generally should follow Nagarjuna's dialectic, it is possible that you are seeing the conclusion often enough but not the reasoning for it.

So, "he rejects conditionality with the rejection of substantiality" means that since substance is empty there is no arising or cessation, hence no conditionality (since conditions are what give rise to phenomena).

The term "when this exists, that exists" goes back to the Nikayas and is essentially the way the Buddha explained dependent origination in a single phrase. When conditions are present, the conditioned arises.

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 20, 2011, 09:26:59 am
It seems to me you are trying to look from a Gelug point of view, in fact I am not familiar with their approach, but if you go to the primary sources, i.e. Karikas and Ratnavali you will find this line of reasoning.
Quote
I am used to seeing this term in the Shentong literature, not Nagarjuna.
Well there's your problem. This is used in the Karikas.

But I don't find it surprising that later philosophers would pick up on this approach and try to iron it out -> Of course you then have the difficulty which arises as a result of the rejection of the two truths...
In the Gelug presentation there is no rejection of the two truths.

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...which is that the four noble truths would be completely false and not even provisionally true. You see if there is no conditional truth then you would know only ultimate truth.
Now that is a rejection of the two truths.
Quote
So you may perhaps see why Nagarjuna thought this necessary.
The Gelug presentation does this without positing an Ultimate Reality.

Quote
Quote
This is back to what I know to be the Gelug presentation. But how are you using "substantiality", as in a discernible essence, not self-empty?
As far as I knew Gelug generally should follow Nagarjuna's dialectic, it is possible that you are seeing the conclusion often enough but not the reasoning for it.

So, "he rejects conditionality with the rejection of substantiality" means that since substance is empty there is no arising or cessation, hence no conditionality (since conditions are what give rise to phenomena).
I think this is where the Gelug position and earlier readings, and therefore your fresh reading, part company. The Gelug position is that "emptiness" is lack of self-identity, or a discernible essence, not provisional existence. It saves the truth of conditionality.

It might be the case that the "emptiness" you are reading about is more along the lines of "presence", as in "is it there at all?", which when not finding it is so much closer to nihilism, and therefore a problem.

This distinction is what I was referring to when I spoke of the Gelug 'oddness' in an earlier post. I didn't realize at the time that this is the source for the difference in views being expressed in this thread, which is now my understanding. I thought that it was too arcane a point for an internet discussion.

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The term "when this exists, that exists" goes back to the Nikayas and is essentially the way the Buddha explained dependent origination in a single phrase. When conditions are present, the conditioned arises.
You might want to study with, or somehow investigate, the Gelug positions on all this. They've got it all worked out.
*****
Now having said that, I'm a Kagyu and fundamentally not even a P.Mdmk. kinda guy, so please do not take my support for the Gelug position to be a sectarian bias. It's just what I have been exposed to, and seems to solve the problems you are dealing with.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on June 20, 2011, 10:29:24 am
In 'Guide to the Middle Way' Chandrakirti unpacks Nagarjuna; Je Tsongkhapa then commented on Chandrakirti in his 'Clear Illumination of the Intention', and in turn commentaries since Je Tsongkhapa simplify the message further.  I like the more recent commentary 'Ocean of Nectar' by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

There is of course a difference between the pursuit of this study as an academic exercise or to develop debating skills, and its place in training the mind on the practical path towards the fruit of clear light cognition. Gelugpas maintain that this clear light cognition is possible through Anuttarayoga tantra.

Berzin explains this pretty well.
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level5_analysis_mind_reality/truths/validity_prasanghika_madhyamaka.html (http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level5_analysis_mind_reality/truths/validity_prasanghika_madhyamaka.html)

''Clear Light Cognition

Anuttarayoga tantra explains that mental activity occurs with three levels of subtlety: gross, subtle, and subtlest.

   - Gross consciousness is sense consciousness, and that has only sensory nonconceptual cognition.

    - Subtle consciousness is mental consciousness, and that may have conceptual or nonconceptual mental cognition, as well as nonconceptual yogic cognition.

    - Subtlest consciousness refers to the clear light mind (‘od-gsal). Its cognition is always nonconceptual.

Clear light cognition is the only level of cognition that, when giving rise to and cognizing a superficial truth, can do so in terms of a pure superficial truth (an appearance of a superficial truth as being devoid of true existence). This is because during clear light cognition of an item, the clear light mind can never give rise to an appearance of the item as being seemingly truly existent. Because of this unique feature, clear light cognition is the only type of cognition that can explicitly apprehend both truths simultaneously – namely, deepest truth and pure superficial truth. After all, a voidness of true existence and an appearance of something as devoid of true existence are not incompatible.''

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 20, 2011, 10:35:59 am
In 'Guide to the Middle Way' Chandrakirti unpacks Nagarjuna; Je Tsongkhapa then commented on Chandrakirti in his 'Clear Illumination of the Intention', and in turn commentaries since Je Tsongkhapa simplify the message further.  I like the more recent commentary 'Ocean of Nectar' by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

As a Kagyu (and therefore obviously not a member of NKT) I'd like to dispel any prejudice and recommend GKG's books. They are quite good and very standard Dharma.

Quote
There is of course a difference between the pursuit of this study as an academic exercise or to develop debating skills, and its place in training the mind on the practical path towards the fruit of clear light cognition. Gelugpas maintain that this clear light cognition is possible through Anuttarayoga tantra.

Berzin explains this pretty well.
[url]http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level5_analysis_mind_reality/truths/validity_prasanghika_madhyamaka.html[/url] ([url]http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level5_analysis_mind_reality/truths/validity_prasanghika_madhyamaka.html[/url])

''Clear Light Cognition

Anuttarayoga tantra explains that mental activity occurs with three levels of subtlety: gross, subtle, and subtlest.

   - Gross consciousness is sense consciousness, and that has only sensory nonconceptual cognition.

    - Subtle consciousness is mental consciousness, and that may have conceptual or nonconceptual mental cognition, as well as nonconceptual yogic cognition.

    - Subtlest consciousness refers to the clear light mind (‘od-gsal). Its cognition is always nonconceptual.

Clear light cognition is the only level of cognition that, when giving rise to and cognizing a superficial truth, can do so in terms of a pure superficial truth (an appearance of a superficial truth as being devoid of true existence). This is because during clear light cognition of an item, the clear light mind can never give rise to an appearance of the item as being seemingly truly existent. Because of this unique feature, clear light cognition is the only type of cognition that can explicitly apprehend both truths simultaneously – namely, deepest truth and pure superficial truth. After all, a voidness of true existence and an appearance of something as devoid of true existence are not incompatible.''


For the newbie this is a tantric perspective. The previous posts were from a sutra perspective. They are related but not the same, therefore a different set of terms and ideas. The tantric perspective is more associated with mantra and visualization, etc.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on June 20, 2011, 12:16:31 pm
I'm not sure about other schools, but Gelugpa talk of the '3 Poisons' of aversion, attachment and ignorance.  (Sometimes as 'anger, attachment and ignorance'.)

'Ignorance' refers to the lack of appreciation of the true nature of the emptiness (or absence) of inherent existence.

Once the mind sees all phenomena clearly it is not possible to have aversion or attachment to them.  This in turn means that anger cannot arise.

This is why Madhyamaka Prasangika is so important in this context, as the methods of Tantra training offer alternative 'realities' to train us finally to deal with all phenomena, however observed, as equal in lacking inherent existence.

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 20, 2011, 12:54:02 pm
santamonicacj, I see I definitely haven't explained well enough. All I can suggest is to check the Karikas, I think we are getting caught up in my vocabulary here.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 20, 2011, 01:04:08 pm
santamonicacj, I see I definitely haven't explained well enough. All I can suggest is to check the Karikas, I think we are getting caught up in my vocabulary here.
Very well could be. You're reading Nargarjuna in translation, right?

In any event it seems you're deep enough into the material that you need to be bouncing your understanding and ideas off people that have really studied this. If I'm right (no guarantee of that at all) you've actually have stumbled across a problem in Nargajuna that Tsongkhapa addressed and fixed. That's pretty remarkable for someone that is studying on their own.

So whether it is vocabulary or not I suggest you find a geshe or khenpo to bounce your understandings off of. They'll know the vocabulary, at least in Tibetan, and if they speak English you can check your terms. Your original post was did not seem rigorous in use of terms.

Discussing this on the internet won't be productive. Actually if you can track down Namdrol (a.k.a. Malcolm Smith) on whatever site he's posting on, he'd be useful and familiar with the Sakya perspective on the whole matter. However be forewarned that he can be quite dismissive and brusque. But if you actually know what you're talking about he'll be helpful. A real geshe or khenpo will be more patient.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 20, 2011, 01:41:45 pm
Well you can find this if your read the Karikas no problem, in fact I recall this approach on Alexander Berzin's site which is pretty Gelug-oriented. I'm not sure whether or not the issues identified were understood as intended.

The problem was that the reply to my message seemed to have received an entirely different meaning than the meaning intended by the words used. So, instead of explaining it all again (which would be the 4th clarification) I shall just let it go.

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 21, 2011, 09:50:32 am
there is no nature, yet it can be seen. there are no chairs, no computer and no table, yet they can be seen. not only are things devoid of self nature, they are also devoid of reality nature. we are walking in a dream.

Ben, would be very interested to understand your approach, however, you will need to keep it simple for me. i am only a newbie!

"form is illusory" Siddharta.

it is natural for people to want to believe there is something out there. actually there is nothing to reify/lift up.
the nameless is the named. all 'reality' is illusory and nameless, hence we talk of flowers and walls, trees and dogs etc. everything that is named is nameless, unspeakable and indescribable. this is the 'no' nature of that which has 'no' self.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 21, 2011, 10:44:52 am
As I deepen my reading on the subject I have recently come across a bit of new information, well at least it's new for me:

Turns out that Nargarjuna's work spawned both Svatantrika Madhyamaka and Prasangika Madhyamaka. A man named Bhavaviveka wrote a commentary that became the Svatantrika and Chandrakirti wrote a commentary that became the Prasangika.

So Chandrakirti is the correct source of the Prasangika specifically. Nargarjuna's work is not exclusively interpreted as Prasangika. Who knew? :wacky:


(My apology to any newbies that are saying, "WTF, who cares"?)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 21, 2011, 11:31:24 am
Yes but you see Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti's approaches are essentially the same, they DO have an implied ineffable thesis, but Bhavaviveka while accepting the rejections of Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti attempted to posit that the conclusion is conditionality as opposed to ineffability so he is not really an inheritor of Nagarjuna's pure-dialectical approach. This doesn't sit well with Chandrakiriti.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 21, 2011, 06:17:53 pm
Yes but you see Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti's approaches are essentially the same, they DO have an implied ineffable thesis, but Bhavaviveka while accepting the rejections of Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti attempted to posit that the conclusion is conditionality as opposed to ineffability so he is not really an inheritor of Nagarjuna's pure-dialectical approach. This doesn't sit well with Chandrakiriti.
How is conditionality opposed to ineffability?

BTW my understanding of your use of terms is:
conditionality=relative truth's validity
ineffability=a positive assertion of some sort of ultimate Truth, or Reality, even if it is only implied.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 21, 2011, 09:15:07 pm
OK, more news flashes for/from me. Seems Ben Yuan may not be alone in his assessments.

In Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness by Khenpo Tsultrim (which is a Kagyu text) he talks a little about the history of the Prasangika. He says that the original Prasangikas in India and Tibet did not assert anything about the relative appearance of phenomena. They considered the nature of this to be beyond even the subtle concepts of the four points. Later schools, specifically the Gelugpas, do hold views concerning the nature of relative phenomena though. They say that relative phenomena exist conventionally. However evidently this is a subject of continuing debate among Tibetan scholars.

I personally like the idea that relative phenomena exists conventionally. It is how I have been taught about it, more or less up to this moment. As I've said earlier in this thread 95%+ of my exposure to this subject has been from the Geulg camp so I'm favorably prejudiced towards those ideas. Those ideas were hard enough for me to digest back then when I was young, and now I'm adverse to entertaining anything new.

However what that does is make my understanding of Ben Yuan's posts like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. It doesn't work. Khenpo Tsultrim then goes on to talk about the non-Gelug version of Prasangika, so I may have more to say later on--if I can understand it. At this point it looks like I may have to almost start from scratch.
:smack:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 22, 2011, 01:25:55 pm
Well the idea of relative truth as conditionality is not wholly incorrect.

Conditionality is best described in that phrase above "when this exists, that exists," or, depending upon the presence of the condition arises an 'effect'. These new effects then go on to be conditions for future arisings. All relative things are things that exist in relations, and hence conditionality can be expressed as a relativity.

However, this is not the same as 'relative truths' which are a form of Yogacara classification of truths, the second of three levels of truth where the Madhyamikas have only two and fit 'relative truths' into the first level of 'conventional truths.'

The reason why there is an ineffability is because of relativity/conditionality, since nothing can exist with an inherent nature without depending upon conditions (is empty of inherent nature). Since nothing is not conditioned/relative, nothing exists which is not empty.

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 24, 2011, 05:21:44 am
conditionality is Form, or the world of cause and effect. some separate this from emptiness, or the ineffable, saying there is a fundamental and a relative truth. infact there can only be a separation in the intellect. in my experience the two... emptiness and form are one (that is a seeing).

"thus Subhuti, in emptiness there is no form" Heart sutra. this means that ultimately there is no conditionality or form, only the appearance of conditionality. cause and effect are a dazzling mirage, even a buddha is subject to cause and effect/conditions and causes. and yet all this, subject to or not subject to are simply emptiness. not a thing.

it can be said that for the ordinary person who is still deluded that there is a reality to be apprehended (seen) and that it is thoroughly real.

it can be said that for one who sees truly there is no reality to be apprehended. walking in a dream and that in form there is only illusion. awake within a dream, knowing that this is all like a dream.

some have said that there is something to find, something to look for, ultimately in my seeking I find nothing whatsoever, emptiness. thats all.

if theres one word with which i could describe things it is ''emptiness.'' there are those who say no emptiness no form. actually this is emptiness. then there are those who looking at suchness just say the mountain is a mountain, the cup of tea is just a cup of tea. i take it further. all these things are only ''emptiness''. some people practicing zen will disagree with me since they see suchness (Tathata), the as is ness of things as ultimate. but i say that there is only as isntness at least for me.

when you see your own nature/emptiness you see that the cup of tea is empty. its heat is empty, its taste is empty, its wetness is empty. only 'emptiness'. thats all i see and yet still drinking cups of tea, but No drinking. if we talk of things being as it is or as they are we posit their existence with the 'is' or 'are' of being. however there is no being only emptiness. i cant get away from this. it is what i see and it is causing me to challenge the traditional teaching of zen, that things are just so. indescribable. i disagree with this. things are empty. thats what i would say and for this reason i sum up the whole of my understanding of buddhism with one word. Emptiness.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: ground on June 24, 2011, 07:01:47 pm
Madhyamaka points towards emptiness. what is the method behind this seeing of emptiness in the simplest possible explanation.

There is nothing Madhyamaka could point to except thoughts.

IMO Madhyamaka is completely overrated and has merged with some sort of mysticism and metaphysics in the area of Vajrayana.

The only insight Madhyamaka can lead to is that a concept is one thing but what appears to senses is something different. But really ... the fact that the concept "sweet" or "sweetness" is not identical to the taste experience ... is this really breaking news?

Kind regards
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 24, 2011, 10:45:29 pm
Here's a idea from Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness by Khenpo Tsultrim: (paraphrased)
The aim of the Madhyamak is to silence completely the conceptual mind, allowing the mind to rest in absolute freedom from concepts.

So I guess it is like Zen, only coming from the exact opposite direction. Zen sidesteps and thwarts the intellect. Madhyamaka brings the intellect to full fruition and lets it see for itself there is no answer intellectually.

In other words it 'blows your mind'.:idea:

Maybe?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on June 25, 2011, 02:12:45 am
Here's a idea from Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness by Khenpo Tsultrim: (paraphrased)
The aim of the Madhyamak is to silence completely the conceptual mind, allowing the mind to rest in absolute freedom from concepts.

So I guess it is like Zen, only coming from the exact opposite direction. Zen sidesteps and thwarts the intellect. Madhyamaka brings the intellect to full fruition and lets it see for itself there is no answer intellectually.

In other words it 'blows your mind'.:idea:

Maybe?

Yes, both Zen and Madhyamaka (and Mahamudra) meet each other in the final revelation.

Madhyamaka, if read intellectually, may seem pretty obvious, an over-elaboration of a simple premise, with a bunch of rival monasteries being picky over the details.  However, it is like being presented with a pile of bricks and the building plans for a house - you still have to do the work yourself before you actually see the reality of what is possible.  Even then the house is still a pile of bricks, empty of inherent existence, until is recognised as 'house'! LOL :)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 25, 2011, 04:14:19 am
Well, here are some good questions for the Shentong Buddhists?

Vedànta vis-à-vis Shentong (http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/VedantaVisAVisShentong.aspx)


Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 25, 2011, 07:54:53 am
if there is an answer intellectually it has to be that little word ''emptiness'', this is like the word sugar or sweetness. unless it is tasted it will be meaningless, but when emptiness is known then the word points towards the reality.

in a way the word emptiness is like pointing toward the moon. like a concept.  or like saying sugar is sweet. first sweetness must be tasted then it will be understood. emptiness is completely normal mind. see this.

my mind is not blown Santamonicaj, however the word emptiness is perhaps acting a bit like an anchor against the winds of uncertainty. an anchor.

best wishes friends, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 25, 2011, 08:05:26 am
Francis, was unable to read all that post. there are similarities between vedanta and buddhism, however in vedanta there is no  understanding of emptiness, nor the possibility that the true self be replaced by a noble wisdom self of loving kindness, which can only happen after complete extinction of the vedantin higher self.

Tom. regards.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 25, 2011, 09:49:58 am
Well, here are some good questions for the Shentong Buddhists?
Vedànta vis-à-vis Shentong ([url]http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/VedantaVisAVisShentong.aspx[/url])

All good points. The Shentong view is very very close to Hinduism from what I can tell. As a non-expert my impression is that the difference is that atman has the implied idea of an identity attached to it. Thus...
Quote
The Buddhists as a whole do not agree that the ultimate reality is an eternal, unchanging non-dual cognition, but rather a changing eternal non-dual cognition.
The Hindu idea of reincarnation is analogous to that of a man that puts on a different suit of clothes in each successive incarnation. The Buddhist Shentong view is more analogous to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Once the butterfly appears the caterpillar is gone forever, never to return. There is nothing held in abeyance that the butterfly will revert back to. Everything that once was the caterpillar in now included in the butterfly. Only in the idea of reincarnation the cocoon is the bardo and the new state can be infinitely varied. But that's just my analogy.

Quote
First of all, Asanga’s teachings are Sutra-s and the Shentong view is a Sutra view. It is bit far-fetched to think that Sutra teachings are secret like Tantra.
The literature currently in circulation and discussion is Sutra, but there is a Tanric Shentong also. It's mentioned very briefly in Hookam's book.

Quote
Since Asanga was at least 200 years older than Sankaràcàrya, why has Sankaràcàrya mentioned Vaibhàbika, Sautàntrika, Cittamàtra, and Màdhyamika only and refuted them only?
If Asanga predates Sankaracarya, which school did Sankaracarya include him in? Probably the Cittamatra.

What Tibetans call "Shentong" is more properly called the Yogacara(syn. Cittamatra)/Madhyamak synthesis, which happened in Tibet I believe, not India.

Quote
Thirdly, why was it necessary to keep Sutra teachings secret unless it blatantly contradicted the prevalent Buddhist views coming down through the unbroken lineages and which were well known to not only all Buddhists, but also all Hindu and Jain scholars?


My own opinion, and it is my opinion only, is that when the Buddha became enlightened he took a very difficult path to enlightenment. And once he was at the top of the mountain he saw that there was a different way up that was much better. Instead of climbing the sheer cliff face you could walk around back and take the stairs, like at Half-Dome in Yosemite Ntl. Park here in California.

So what are these "back stairs"? They are the teachings on emptiness that make you take a different path up the mountain. Even the most ardent Shentongpas see the Madhyamaka view as being a necessary prerequisite to the Shentong view. That's why it is called the Yogacar/Madhyamaka. If you try to see things straight away like the Hindus do then you get deluded into a form of eternalism and reification.

But again, THOSE ARE JUST MY OPINIONS AND IDEAS. I make no claims on being an expert or authority on this subject. We are all just playing on the internet...
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on June 25, 2011, 09:57:20 am

Even the most ardent Shentongpas see the Madhyamaka view as being a necessary prerequisite to the Shentong view.

Maybe not so much a prerequisite as an indicator that Madhyamaka is there is a logical possibility if you pursue it to the bitter end. Some Gelugs see it as an academic exercise, but seem to indicate Yogacara as a more workable approach to samsara.  An 'ulitmate' truth isn't necessarily of much use to us.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 25, 2011, 10:54:45 pm
Francis, was unable to read all that post. there are similarities between vedanta and buddhism, however in vedanta there is no  understanding of emptiness, nor the possibility that the true self be replaced by a noble wisdom self of loving kindness, which can only happen after complete extinction of the vedantin higher self.
Tom. regards.


Hi White Lotus.  Sorry you could not read the article.  It asks the question for any Shentongpa to show how the Shentong view is different from the Hindu Upanishadic view? viz.

“If this Atma has been refuted by many Buddhist scholars like Shantarakshita, yanagarbha, etc., how is it possible for the Shentong view to be free from the same refutation? After all, both are calling the non-dual cognition, which is permanent, non-referential, and really existing as the Ultimate Truth and Ultimate Reality.”

So, my question is what’s the difference between a true self and a noble wisdom self, or a higher self?   I would suggest nothing, because they all imply belief in atman.

The Madhyamika Buddhism vis-à-vis Hindu Vedanta (A Paradigm Shift), (http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/MadhyamikaBuddhismVisAVisHinduVedanta.aspx) is another fine article, and well worth reading .
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 25, 2011, 11:00:20 pm
All good points. The Shentong view is very very close to Hinduism from what I can tell. As a non-expert my impression is that the difference is that atman has the implied idea of an identity attached to it. Thus...
Quote
The Buddhists as a whole do not agree that the ultimate reality is an eternal, unchanging non-dual cognition, but rather a changing eternal non-dual cognition.
The Hindu idea of reincarnation is analogous to that of a man that puts on a different suit of clothes in each successive incarnation. The Buddhist Shentong view is more analogous to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Once the butterfly appears the caterpillar is gone forever, never to return. There is nothing held in abeyance that the butterfly will revert back to. Everything that once was the caterpillar in now included in the butterfly. Only in the idea of reincarnation the cocoon is the bardo and the new state can be infinitely varied. But that's just my analogy.

I was thinking more along the lines of the Buddha nature mind stream continuum.  As Sankaràcàrya suggests - “The error in the view of these philosophers is a slight one – due only to the assertion of eternality of cognition.” Sankara says about the Chittamatra “The error in the view of these philosophies is only slight - they believe the non-dual mind as changing moment to moment; we believe it as unchanging eternal.”  Which suggests more than a passing similarity.

Quote
Thirdly, why was it necessary to keep Sutra teachings secret unless it blatantly contradicted the prevalent Buddhist views coming down through the unbroken lineages and which were well known to not only all Buddhists, but also all Hindu and Jain scholars?

I don’t think he was serious about the secret teachings.  As the author says – “there is a  a small legend that says that the Shentong view was kept secret in India from the time of Asanga until it entered Tibet. This story seems cooked up to justify the Shentong lacunae in the records of all Indian systems”.

Quote
My own opinion, and it is my opinion only, is that when the Buddha became enlightened he took a very difficult path to enlightenment. And once he was at the top of the mountain he saw that there was a different way up that was much better. Instead of climbing the sheer cliff face you could walk around back and take the stairs, like at Half-Dome in Yosemite Ntl. Park here in California.

So what are these "back stairs"? They are the teachings on emptiness that make you take a different path up the mountain. Even the most ardent Shentongpas see the Madhyamaka view as being a necessary prerequisite to the Shentong view. That's why it is called the Yogacar/Madhyamaka. If you try to see things straight away like the Hindus do then you get deluded into a form of eternalism and reification.

But again, THOSE ARE JUST MY OPINIONS AND IDEAS. I make no claims on being an expert or authority on this subject. We are all just playing on the internet...

My personal view is that the Buddha shakyamuni was clear that the ultimate truth was anatman (anatta). And that teaching remains one of the most distinctive teachings of the Buddhism, no matter how many “back stairs” people take to try and slip the belief in atman back into Buddhism.  Not that Dolpopa was ever shy about this belief. 

I agree, we are all just playing on the internet

cheers :)

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 25, 2011, 11:01:52 pm

Even the most ardent Shentongpas see the Madhyamaka view as being a necessary prerequisite to the Shentong view.


Maybe not so much a prerequisite as an indicator that Madhyamaka is there is a logical possibility if you pursue it to the bitter end. Some Gelugs see it as an academic exercise, but seem to indicate Yogacara as a more workable approach to samsara.  An 'ulitmate' truth isn't necessarily of much use to us.


The “'ultimate" truth is often confused with the Hindu Upanishadic view.  The distinction is explained in Madhyamika Buddhism vis-à-vis Hindu Vedanta (A Paradigm Shift). (http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/MadhyamikaBuddhismVisAVisHinduVedanta.aspx)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 25, 2011, 11:45:12 pm
The “'ultimate" truth is often confused with the Hindu Upanishadic view.  The distinction is explained in Madhyamika Buddhism vis-à-vis Hindu Vedanta (A Paradigm Shift). ([url]http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/MadhyamikaBuddhismVisAVisHinduVedanta.aspx[/url])

The guy that wrote your link really has taken issue with this Shentong & Hinduism thing.

I like his "Ultimate Truth" rather than "Ultimate Reality" to present the Shentong view. That gets around the whole substratum thing.

I also like:
Quote
the Great Pandita Shantarakshita has made it very clear in his Tatvasamgraha that the Buddhist "Nitya" (permanent) is "parinami nitya" i.e. changing, transforming, eternal, in another words dynamically eternal. The Buddhist "Nitya" is more accurately translated in English as eternal continuum rather than just eternal.(formatting mine)

I'm a little unclear if he thinks that is enough to differentiate Shentong from Hinduism though, but then again I just skimmed it.
*****
The thing of it is that:
1. I don't really give a rat's ass if Shentong is philosophically the same as Hinduism. For thousands of years that was sufficient to be considered heretical, but I'm not in a society that feels like Hinduism needs to be kept at arms length.
2. It's just philosophy anyway. I'm not doing any meditational practice where the view is so essential that the practice can't be done properly without the view being exact.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 26, 2011, 12:51:23 am
The “'ultimate" truth is often confused with the Hindu Upanishadic view.  The distinction is explained in Madhyamika Buddhism vis-à-vis Hindu Vedanta (A Paradigm Shift). ([url]http://www.byomakusuma.org/Teachings/MadhyamikaBuddhismVisAVisHinduVedanta.aspx[/url])

The guy that wrote your link really has taken issue with this Shentong & Hinduism thing.

I like his "Ultimate Truth" rather than "Ultimate Reality" to present the Shentong view. That gets around the whole substratum thing.

I also like:
Quote
the Great Pandita Shantarakshita has made it very clear in his Tatvasamgraha that the Buddhist "Nitya" (permanent) is "parinami nitya" i.e. changing, transforming, eternal, in another words dynamically eternal. The Buddhist "Nitya" is more accurately translated in English as eternal continuum rather than just eternal.(formatting mine)

I'm a little unclear if he thinks that is enough to differentiate Shentong from Hinduism though, but then again I just skimmed it.
*****


In this article, I’m not sure either.  He says

“Some Shentong scholars seem to imply that the Shentong system is talking about a different emptiness. They say that the Buddha Nature is not empty of qualities, therefore the Buddha Nature is not merely empty, it also has qualities. First of all the whole statement is irrelevant.

Qualities are not the question and the Buddha Nature being empty of quality or not is not the issue. The Buddha Nature is empty of real existence (Skt. svabhava). Because it is empty of real existence, it has qualities. As Arya Nagarjuna has said in his Mulamadhyamika Karika: "All things are possible (including qualities) because they are empty." Therefore the whole Shentong / Rangtong issue is superfluous.

However, in Shentong, the Buddha Nature is also empty and emptiness means unfindability. In short, the unfindability of any true existence is the Ultimate Truth in Buddhism, and is diametrically opposed to the concept of a truly existing thing called Brahma, the ultimate truth in Hinduism.”

Quote
The thing of it is that:
1. I don't really give a rat's ass if Shentong is philosophically the same as Hinduism. For thousands of years that was sufficient to be considered heretical, but I'm not in a society that feels like Hinduism needs to be kept at arms length.
2. It's just philosophy anyway. I'm not doing any meditational practice where the view is so essential that the practice can't be done properly without the view being exact.


So, if you saying that Shentong is philosophically the same as Hinduism, then I agree.  However, it’s the difference between Buddhism and Hinduism that make Buddhism unique.  This point seems to be lost the further Buddhism has travelled from it’s source, until it has travelled full circle.  Now, no one knows the difference anymore.


Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 26, 2011, 02:03:48 am
So, if you saying that Shentong is philosophically the same as Hinduism, then I agree.  However, it’s the difference between Buddhism and Hinduism that make Buddhism unique.  This point seems to be lost the further Buddhism has travelled from it’s source, until it has travelled full circle.  Now, no one knows the difference anymore.
Yes and no. Even if Shentong and Hinduism are exactly the same philosophically I still think that there's a difference in approach. Besides the differences in meditation and all, the previous perspectives on emptiness give a better success rate for actualizing the Ultimate Truth. It's like my analogy of Half Dome in Yosemite with the sheer cliff face or coming up the back way with steps. Or you could liken it to seeing the Truth inside a house through a locked window, and seeing the exact same Truth through an open door. Same Truth, different access.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 26, 2011, 04:20:39 am
So, if you saying that Shentong is philosophically the same as Hinduism, then I agree.  However, it’s the difference between Buddhism and Hinduism that make Buddhism unique.  This point seems to be lost the further Buddhism has travelled from it’s source, until it has travelled full circle.  Now, no one knows the difference anymore.
Yes and no. Even if Shentong and Hinduism are exactly the same philosophically I still think that there's a difference in approach. Besides the differences in meditation and all, the previous perspectives on emptiness give a better success rate for actualizing the Ultimate Truth. It's like my analogy of Half Dome in Yosemite with the sheer cliff face or coming up the back way with steps. Or you could liken it to seeing the Truth inside a house through a locked window, and seeing the exact same Truth through an open door. Same Truth, different access.

Thanks for the clarification.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 26, 2011, 06:25:53 am
This thread and one other has made me dig a bit deeper in my reading. One thing I've started reading is In Praise of Dharmadhatu by Nagarjuna tr. Brunnholzl. Since my last post I've come across something in one of the introductions that says the alaya-consciousness ceases upon attainment of Buddhahood, and therefore it is not to be misconceived as an atman or a creator.

So as far as the Hindu/Shentong things goes, I've still got a lot of head scratching to do. Maybe I'll figure it out, but if not that's ok by me. I'm not that invested in it.
:twocents:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 27, 2011, 06:33:33 am
So, my question is what’s the difference between a true self and a noble wisdom self, or a higher self?   I would suggest nothing, because they all imply belief in atman.

higher self, which is found in Zen and Advaita is own nature or original nature, it operates on a lower level of purity than noble wisdom or true loving kindness... which can be called a self in that its prescence allows for a subjective experience (a within). if one remains in the state of No subject/the great ichantika, without buddha nature this is not as pure as taking on Loving kindness and returning to the subject.

it must be remembered that in all this there is no experience of 'i' 'me' nor 'mine', even in the state of ordinary higher self, there is a complete abscence of ordinary self, or individual I. even for example looking at your hands and uttering 'my' hands, there is no sensation of myness.

in Advaita there is an emphasis on the Atman, they call it the Brahman Atman, this atman has attained samata, or non-dual perception, but not yet recognised emptiness, nor that there is fundamentally only emptiness. and that means not even that. not a thing.

there is the appearance of an atman, this appearance can be annihilated... however fundamentally there is no atman, nor ever was there.

best wishes, Tom.

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on June 27, 2011, 08:14:04 pm
Like White Lotus has pointed out, the similarity is not necessarily between Shengtongpa philosophy and Hinduism as such, but between the former and Advaita Vedanta in particular. Sankara was opposed by very many other philosophers who may be considered Hindu as well, and one of the primary objections as such was that he was preaching something which seems to have been influenced directly by Nagarjuna. If you take the belief in Atman to be somewhat like a belief in Alaya (which is not a stretch) then certainly Shentongpa philosophy is the same. However, Yogacara depictions of alaya are certainly not of ineffability as of course Shengtongpa depictions are (and certainly post Huineng Ch'an/Seon/Zen).
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 28, 2011, 06:48:29 am
Back stairs...
appropriating the meditation duration of all known buddhas during your meditation and making a concious decision to be in a permanent state of formless samadhi. with vows and blessings upon ones own intentionality. such that when one has any kind of intention it begins to realize itself immediately.

learning to speak to Buddhas and Gods through development of stream of consciousness.

use of blessings and vows, after vowing that only perfect vows will become active and only perfect blessings.

just a nutshell Santamonicaj.

finding a quiet place and listening to the rumble of the universal music.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 28, 2011, 09:12:11 am
finding a quiet place and listening to the rumble of the universal music.
That would be Bach, right?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 28, 2011, 03:08:05 pm
Like White Lotus has pointed out, the similarity is not necessarily between Shengtongpa philosophy and Hinduism as such, but between the former and Advaita Vedanta in particular. Sankara was opposed by very many other philosophers who may be considered Hindu as well, and one of the primary objections as such was that he was preaching something which seems to have been influenced directly by Nagarjuna. If you take the belief in Atman to be somewhat like a belief in Alaya (which is not a stretch) then certainly Shentongpa philosophy is the same. However, Yogacara depictions of alaya are certainly not of ineffability as of course Shengtongpa depictions are (and certainly post Huineng Ch'an/Seon/Zen).

Good points Ben, WL and Santa,

But what you say does not stack up against what Dolpopa taught.

Any comments on Dolpopa's teachings?

cheers
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 28, 2011, 07:22:14 pm
But what you say does not stack up against what Dolpopa taught.

Any comments on Dolpopa's teachings?
I dunno. What did he teach?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on June 29, 2011, 06:25:25 am
''rumbling of universal music''. this doesnt occur everywhere, you will need to be in a holy place with complete silence, then you may find you are able to here a sort of rumbling, like the bullfrog noise some monks make. i have only had the priviledge of listening to it in a few places. the holier the place the clearer the rumbling! this can be taken from the neoplatonic understanding of the ''music of the spheres''. to begin with listening to the music of the spheres can seem a bit like tintinitis, when focused on it it changes note at times and can become a very clear keening noise, clearer on some occassions than others, its absolute perfection is found in the monk like rumbling sound, but as i say, you will need to be in a special place to hear it. Bach... respects, sublimity expressed.

Ben, when you speak of Alaya, i take it you mean that Alayavijnana, the storehouse consciousness is impermanent. perhaps that is experienced as a form of identity. im not sure. the rope and the snake analogy found in Yogacara is also found in Advaita Vedanta. it refers parabolically (as a parable/metaphor) to complete cessation of lower self/I ego and then later on once snake is seen to be rope, the rope is used to hang the identity of the brahman atman. so that absolutely no self whatsoever remains... subjectlessness. however Noble Wisdom or true loving kindness then replace and reintroduce a form of Subject, but this is a tathag atman, not a small individual self, rather a generalized field or oneness that permeates and is all things. oneness is experienced when buddha nature is first see, infact one need not see buddha nature in order to see the universal oneness of all things.

Advaita, is taken from the letter 'a' meaning no or non and dvanda meaning dualism... thats ususally as far as a vedantin hindu will go. the idea that the brahman atman is only on the way and not the final goal can seem a bit shocking to a hindu, especially when you tell him that the brahman can be annihilated. so in buddhism brahma or brahman atman are seen as a stage of evolution, not the final goal. this is spoken about in certain sutras. im afraid i cant tell you which, owing to my ignorance.

thanks Francis, what is Dolpopas teaching if its possible to put it in a nutshell?!

Best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: ground on June 29, 2011, 07:46:10 pm
One view ... another view ... and then this view ... what does that mean? ... is this that or is this this? ...
For me this thread clearly shows the can of worms that is opened when deviating from the path which is practice into philosophy which is ungrounded speculation.
This is only my opinion so you do not have to bother.


Kind regards
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on June 30, 2011, 03:53:19 am
thanks Francis, what is Dolpopas teaching if its possible to put it in a nutshell?!
Best wishes, Tom.


Hi Tom, my question was a genuine question.  Although, it appears some are playing possum.

Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolpopa_Sherab_Gyaltsen)

“Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (1292–1361) master of the Kalacakra, founder of the zhentong philosophical tradition, and architect without peer.

Equally controversially, Dolpopa was not afraid to employ the term 'Self' or 'Soul' (atman) to refer to the ultimate Buddhic Truth that according to him lay at the heart of all being. In his Mountain Doctrine work, he refers to this Buddhic Essence as the 'Great Self', 'True Self', 'Diamond Self', 'Supreme Self', 'Solid Self', and 'Supreme Self of all Creatures', basing himself on specific utterances and doctrines of the Buddha in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Angulimaliya Sutra, and Srimala Sutra, amongst others (see Hopkins, Jeffrey, Mountain Doctrine, 2006 passim).

While most Buddhists baulk at such a term, there are still exponents of the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions of Buddhism (as well as Dolpopa's own Jonangpa School) who are happy to see the heart of all beings as one unified, egoless Buddha-Self. Contemporary Oxford University Doctor of Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan Kagyu lama, Shenpen Hookham, for example, writes affirmatively of the True Self in the teachings of Dolpopa and other great Buddhist masters, saying: Absolute, Eternal True Self: Many venerable saints and scholars have argued for the Self in the past and do so in the present. Great teachers of the Tibetan Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya schools have and do argue that such a view [i.e. the reality of an essential, deathless Self] is fundamental to the practice of the Buddhist path and the attainment of Enlightenment.

Hookham further points out in her study of Dolpopa's form of Shentong teachings that Dolpopa (along with other representatives of this Shentong tradition, including such Tibetan Shentong masters as Rangjung Dorje, Mikyo Dorje and Jamgon Kongtrul) really envisioned the Buddha within each being as an actual, living truth and presence, not conditioned or generated by any temporal process of causation:

The essential feature of a Shentong interpretation of tathāgatagarbha doctrine is that the Buddha is literally within all beings as their unchanging, permanent, non-conditioned nature .... Buddha is by all [tathāgatagarbha-sutra] accounts considered to be non-conditioned, eternal, unchanging, bliss, compassion, wisdom, power, and so on. For Shentongpas [i.e. the adherents of a Shentong understanding of scripture] the fact that Buddha is non-conditioned means the essence of Buddha is complete with all the Buddha Qualities in a timeless sense'.”

It is well known that when the Great Madhyamaka teachings were brought out in Tibet by Dolpopa and his Jonangpa order, they were forcefully refuted by Tsongkhapa and his Gelugpa order.  This brought a whole mess of suffering.

“Tsongkapa and his successors have been especially vehement in their objections to the views of Shay-rap-gyel-tsen, (shes rab rgyal mthsan, 1292-1361) and his followers. Shay-rap-gyel-tsen, an abbot of Jo-mo-nang, formulated his view in Ocean of Definitive Meaning (nges don rgya mtsho) and other writings; his followers are called Jo-nang-bas. As Ge-luk political power reached its agogee under the Fifth Dalai Lama in the seventeenth century, the Jo-nang-bas were proscribed and their monasteries and other property were completely confiscated and converted to Ge-luk use.

Tibet's intersectarian conflicts were almost always driven by motives more political than "purely philosophical", indeed, the Jo-nang-bas were allies of the king of Tsang (gtsang), the main political and military adversary of Ge-luk in the first half of the seventeenth century. On the other hand, for more than two hundred years before they destroyed the Jo-nang-ba order the Ge-luk-bas had been denouncing Shay-rap-gyel-tsen's philosophy as something utterly beyond the pale of Mahāyāna Buddhism...While the immediate occasion for the persecution of Jo-nang was its defeat in a power struggle, proscription suggested itself as a penalty in the context of a long history of substantial and deeply felt philosophical differences. This hostility is reflected in the banning of Shay-rap-gyel-tsen's major books from the premises of Ge-luk monasteries more than 150 years prior to his order's extinction.”

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Sunya on June 30, 2011, 12:37:22 pm
One view ... another view ... and then this view ... what does that mean? ... is this that or is this this? ...
For me this thread clearly shows the can of worms that is opened when deviating from the path which is practice into philosophy which is ungrounded speculation.
This is only my opinion so you do not have to bother.


Kind regards

 :anjali:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on June 30, 2011, 03:13:10 pm
Quote
While most Buddhists baulk at such a term, there are still exponents of the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions of Buddhism (as well as Dolpopa's own Jonangpa School) who are happy to see the heart of all beings as one unified(?), egoless Buddha-Self. (formatting mine)
I've read a bit of Hookam, and also her main teacher on the subject Khenpo Tsultrim. Regardless of the language used I don't think that "unified" is part of Shentong view as interpreted in the Karma Kagyu order. It's not like there's a substratum linking enlightened beings where they can telepathically send messages to each other because they are "all one".
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 01, 2011, 11:01:43 am
emptiness.

emptiness is the 10,000 concepts, the infinite names and every form. emptiness is just so and not so. the 10,000 arguments and their 10,000 counter arguments. every arising and every ceasing. every position and yet no position whatsoever. emptiness is this sentence in all its pristine purity. you cant sully it, not even nothing or anything detract from its purity.

everything, nothing, no thing, anything... all emptiness. the nameless is named, the formless is formed.

emptiness.

Francis, i have no problem with the account of Dolpopa. there will always be sectarianism, and those that think one particular approach is the only one. it is quite clear from Siddharta's teaching that there are levels of understanding and teaching, not just one simple teaching, some of these teachings are contradictory. i only have one word to say and that is 'emptiness'. this emptiness means that there is no ego self, nor infact anything whatsoever to attribute a self to. and yet we call this nothing 'form'. form is infact empty, totally. i know that there are those in branches of Madhyamaka that argue it is only self that is absent. i argue that emptiness is far wider reaching than that. the True self is not an ego I entity, and therefore it can be called No self. it is a field or force that does not exist. that is its nature, yet it is very alive.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 01, 2011, 12:11:38 pm
One view ... another view ... and then this view ... what does that mean? ... is this that or is this this? ...
For me this thread clearly shows the can of worms that is opened when deviating from the path which is practice into philosophy which is ungrounded speculation.
This is only my opinion so you do not have to bother.


Kind regards

On behalf of one who posted in this thread I humbly apologise for deviating from 'the path' however you define that.  Ah yes, the path of 'practice' - and precisely how did you identify that path without speculation about what Buddha said and what he meant?   This is only my opinion, but how much arrogance is displayed in thinking that your own perspective is not also deviant and ungrounded speculation? I'm not bothered, but perhaps you should be, as you waste a lot of time accusing people of speculation and seem oblivious to your own. ;)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 01, 2011, 12:47:26 pm
emptiness.

it is quite clear from Siddharta's teaching that there are levels of understanding and teaching, not just one simple teaching, some of these teachings are contradictory. i only have one word to say and that is 'emptiness'. this emptiness means that there is no ego self, nor infact anything whatsoever to attribute a self to. and yet we call this nothing 'form'. form is infact empty, totally. i know that there are those in branches of Madhyamaka that argue it is only self that is absent. i argue that emptiness is far wider reaching than that. the True self is not an ego I entity, and therefore it can be called No self. it is a field or force that does not exist. that is its nature, yet it is very alive.

Yes.

Assume that I have only seen swans which are white and never seen anything else which is white, so I conclude that: All swans are white.  All white things are swans.  I deny any speculation which does not fit my model.

Tricky stuff, to be sure.  Can we establish with certainty that anything we cannot sense is absent ?

A snapshot of Self, or even the exact moments of Death and Birth, is impossible due to impermanence and constant flux. Does this mean they cannot exist?

Speculation that they exist is no more baseless than the speculation that they do not. That is logical.

There is no Buddha, no Enlightened Sangha, no Dharma  - we may only speculate that there is, or that there was.

I grow weary of those who place their own speculation above the speculation of others.

How to break out of the loop?

With practice, that denial of alternative 'reality' disappears. Through generation as a Buddha one is able to realise that the 'person' we now feel ourselves to be is equal to the Buddhas in terms of reality.  I feel much compassion for those who are unable to verify this for themselves through denial of the possibility.

We can refute an assertion, we can find fault with logic, but we can never know what another being has experienced nor if it is valid in the context of what is 'real'. ;)




Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: ground on July 01, 2011, 08:24:33 pm
One view ... another view ... and then this view ... what does that mean? ... is this that or is this this? ...
For me this thread clearly shows the can of worms that is opened when deviating from the path which is practice into philosophy which is ungrounded speculation.
This is only my opinion so you do not have to bother.


Kind regards

On behalf of one who posted in this thread I humbly apologise for deviating from 'the path' however you define that. 
No need to apologise. This is what we are doing most of the time, isn't it?

Ah yes, the path of 'practice' - and precisely how did you identify that path without speculation about what Buddha said and what he meant?   
I would suggest to take only his teachings and skip commentarial opinions about their meaning that pretend to be better expressions of what He taught.

This is only my opinion, but how much arrogance is displayed in thinking that your own perspective is not also deviant and ungrounded speculation?

I did not present an alternative teaching, or did I?

I'm not bothered, but perhaps you should be, as you waste a lot of time accusing people of speculation and seem oblivious to your own. ;)
"Accusation" is what you felt. I have no control about what you may be doing with my written words.


Kind regards
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on July 01, 2011, 10:25:13 pm
I would suggest to take only his teachings and skip commentarial opinions about their meaning that pretend to be better expressions of what He taught.
I am going to say something that make shock a few people, which is that for most of my involvement with Buddhism I had almost no exposure to Sakyamuni's original Teachings, at least not as presented in the Pali Canon. I did have a lot of exposure to later later sages, like Nagarjuna, Asanga, Shantideva, Padmasambhava, Milarepa, Gompopa, Tsongkhapa, Longchenpa, Kongtrul R., and so on. Each of these sages is considered by the Tibetan traditions to be valid Authorities in their own right. This is testimony to the great strength of Buddhadharma, which is that the Path Sakyamuni laid out has been successfully, repeatedly, and maybe even consistently(!) traversed by countless others over the generations. And, germane to this thread, the Madhyamaka is entirely a much later philosophical school.

It is only recently on the internet that I have been exposed to the Pali Canon and what we can only assume are Sakyamuni's original Teachings, more or less. It has been a very welcome education. I certainly understand the impulse to restrict oneself to that which is certainly authentic and unmistaken--or at least as much as possible.

So many people may restrict themselves to Sakyamuni's original Teachings, and others may not. Either way seems to have produced good results for a substantial number of people.
:twocents:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 02, 2011, 01:43:21 am

"Accusation" is what you felt. I have no control about what you may be doing with my written words.


You have no idea what I felt - you see how easily you speculate?

I know exactly what your views are on the Mahayana and Vajrayana as you have been posting them across several forums for some time; you frequently post to support your preferred speculation, which is fine, but it is not so fine when you denigrate the path of others as 'ungrounded speculation',.   Ah well, if it makes you feel happy and feeds a need.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: ground on July 02, 2011, 04:42:07 am
I know exactly what your views are on the Mahayana and Vajrayana ...
At least you believe to know. Whether you know certainly may be doubted.

... you frequently post to support your preferred speculation, which is fine, but it is not so fine when you denigrate the path of others as 'ungrounded speculation',.   Ah well, if it makes you feel happy and feeds a need.
I don't know what you are referring to with "your preferred speculation" but I happily concede that each and every syllable which is not the Buddha's is mere speculation whereas the Buddha's teachings in the sutta pitaka are unsurpassable truth.

Kind regards
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 02, 2011, 06:12:51 am
I know exactly what your views are on the Mahayana and Vajrayana ...
At least you believe to know. Whether you know certainly may be doubted.

... you frequently post to support your preferred speculation, which is fine, but it is not so fine when you denigrate the path of others as 'ungrounded speculation',.   Ah well, if it makes you feel happy and feeds a need.
I don't know what you are referring to with "your preferred speculation" but I happily concede that each and every syllable which is not the Buddha's is mere speculation whereas the Buddha's teachings in the sutta pitaka are unsurpassable truth.

Kind regards

You assume that the words you choose are not mere speculation? 
It is your personal choice of delusion, your 'truth' and that's fine.

What I don't understand is why you haver spent many months peddling these attacks on the Vajrayana, especially on DW.  I hope you soon find enough peace to eliminate this need. Sadly, it seems to escalate until you get warned or banned.

Please stop repeatedly disparaging the beliefs and practices of Mahayana and Vajrayana as 'ungrounded speculation' on threads discussing them.   I note that you post little on Dhammawheel so you must find some special attraction in the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings - yet there is a palpable sneer in remarks such as 'ungrounded speculation'.   

Well, you're luck is in, I responded to your off-topic  troll.  Now can we get back to the topic, which is not 'I'm a Theravadan, I'm right,  and you are all chasing fairy tales'.   
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Spiny Norman on July 02, 2011, 07:23:50 am
If the chair had inherited existence, then that existence could be found when we pulled the chair apart. However, when we pull the chair apart we find that the chair is just made from pieces of wood, that were assembled together to make what we call a chair.


I remember having a "chair" discussion at an NKT class years ago, and the teacher said: "What do we get if we take the legs off a chair?" and I said: "A legless chair."
I know I shouldn't say these things, but sometimes I get a bit mischevious... :teehee:

Spiny
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: ground on July 02, 2011, 08:14:50 am
I know exactly what your views are on the Mahayana and Vajrayana ...
At least you believe to know. Whether you know certainly may be doubted.

... you frequently post to support your preferred speculation, which is fine, but it is not so fine when you denigrate the path of others as 'ungrounded speculation',.   Ah well, if it makes you feel happy and feeds a need.
I don't know what you are referring to with "your preferred speculation" but I happily concede that each and every syllable which is not the Buddha's is mere speculation whereas the Buddha's teachings in the sutta pitaka are unsurpassable truth.

Kind regards

You assume that the words you choose are not mere speculation? 
It is your personal choice of delusion, your 'truth' and that's fine.
Please read carefully what I have written: All words I do apply that are not the Buddha's are speculation. This is what I have written.


What I don't understand is why you haver spent many months peddling these attacks on the Vajrayana, especially on DW.  I hope you soon find enough peace to eliminate this need. Sadly, it seems to escalate until you get warned or banned.
I did not attack vajrayana at all.


Please stop repeatedly disparaging the beliefs and practices of Mahayana and Vajrayana as 'ungrounded speculation' on threads discussing them.   I note that you post little on Dhammawheel so you must find some special attraction in the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings - yet there is a palpable sneer in remarks such as 'ungrounded speculation'.   
Actually I like the Mahayana and the Vajrayana. However philosophies I find speculation.

Well, you're luck is in, I responded to your off-topic  troll.  Now can we get back to the topic, which is not 'I'm a Theravadan, I'm right,  and you are all chasing fairy tales'.
I am not a Theravadin.

Kind regards
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Sunya on July 02, 2011, 09:41:27 am
"To him, possessing compassion, who taught the real dharma
For the destruction of all views—to him, Gautama, I humbly offer reverence"
(Nagarjuna, MMK 27.30)

http://www.orientalia.org/article492.html (http://www.orientalia.org/article492.html)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 03, 2011, 08:37:58 am
For the destruction of all views—to him, Gautama, I humbly offer reverence

Thank you for this quote Sunya, it very well clarifies the argument at this stage without beating around the bush. i would however say that from a mahayana perspective that there are no views to destroy, since all are inherently empty and no view has a self to be destroyed. when all views are seen as empty, where is the view? there is only the appearance of a view. just as there is only the appearance of a view, there is only the appearance of a chair, a table and a computer. these are illusory appearances of emptiness in emptiness. there never was anything and yet... i am typing at this computer. paradox.

to attach to the appearance of emptiness, by remaining silent or by expressing no concepts or opinions is fine, however this does not respect the true nature of all things. which are not. to avoid views is to avoid emptiness, which cannot be avoided whatsoever, since all is empty.

if i say that compassion is important, this is a view. if i say that there is no self, this is a view. these views are grounded in experience and reality. they are however dreams, within a dream. we need right action and right view to progress where there is no path.

to be averse to any view that was not expressed by Noble Siddharta, is to fail to realize that buddhism is an appreciation of the way things are, and the way things could be. cessation of suffering. emptiness.

before i say any more i must say that i have appreciated your posts T Ming Yur posts and your tenacity. yes, humility is important and when we have a great realization the ego can be insensitive in the way we express ourselves. i have found that in my own experience, and need to respect that truth can be dangerous.

best wishes, Tom.


Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 03, 2011, 08:49:37 am
For the destruction of all views—to him, Gautama, I humbly offer reverence.

it is not surprising that Nagarjuna said this since the Middle Way/Madhyamaka makes no positive assertions whatsoever. if it says there is no being, nor non being; it makes no assertion. emptiness of view is expressed, but using words.

if there is right view, this must be so on many levels... practical and philosophical, and infact emptiness flies in the face of the philosophers. all of nagarjunas teaching is grounded in the fundamental view/or seeing of emptiness.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 03, 2011, 10:14:17 am
For the destruction of all views—to him, Gautama, I humbly offer reverence.

it is not surprising that Nagarjuna said this since the Middle Way/Madhyamaka makes no positive assertions whatsoever. if it says there is no being, nor non being; it makes no assertion. emptiness of view is expressed, but using words.

if there is right view, this must be so on many levels... practical and philosophical, and infact emptiness flies in the face of the philosophers. all of nagarjunas teaching is grounded in the fundamental view/or seeing of emptiness.

best wishes, Tom.

Well, isn't 'middle way' an assertion?

We must define the extremes before we can assert a middle position.   For example, just how extreme does asceticism have to be to be the 'most' extreme?  How extreme does a belief in the absence of inherent existence have to be to be the most extreme or in the middle?  Surely a position that even the mind is empty of inherent existence is further from the middle than asserting that mind only exists inherently?

maitri

Yeshe
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 05, 2011, 09:09:44 am
Well, isn't 'middle way' an assertion?

if the middle way points towards 'neither', 'nor' in all cases. it always points towards emptiness in a clear manner. however to assert either or, or both is to point towards being. you can say neither being nor nothingness, either being or nothingness, or both... in my opinion all these approaches are emptiness. assertions and denials. why be attached to the denials or negations of 'neither' and 'nor', though this is a more obvious pointing towards emptiness... which can be seen as beyond being and nothingness and yet as being and nothingness at the same time. all is empty.

the teaching of Madhyamaka seems to be an assertion that there is nothing to assert! only emptiness, since emptiness is not a thing, it can be said not to be an assertion. but since emptiness is all things it can be said to be an assertion at the same time.

We must define the extremes before we can assert a middle position.  
the extremes are being and nothingness, the two opposite dualities that are used by philosophers to talk of existence. but actually emptiness is beyond either of these and is without duality. it is just emptiness. whatever can be said about it is only a pointing to the substance or sensation of this normal awareness we have in our every day lives. the taste of mind or emptiness.

For example, just how extreme does asceticism have to be to be the 'most' extreme?
this is to confuse the Middle Way with the Golden Mean. or to confuse what is focused on emptiness with what is focused on balance. not that balance isnt an important element of daily living.

How extreme does a belief in the absence of inherent existence have to be to be the most extreme or in the middle?  Surely a position that even the mind is empty of inherent existence is further from the middle than asserting that mind only exists inherently?
if we apply the golden mean to inherent existence we say that that existence of the True nature is balanced between existing and non existing. This is not the Middle way of Madhyamaka. the Madhyamikans would assert that there is neither existing nor non existing of an inherent nature... thus they say nothing, except that they do point directly towards emptiness.

The True nature is emptiness. I am emptiness and i know it. i see it and i taste it. if i have a nature, that nature is emptiness and is empty of all things and yet shows itself in the appearance of all things.

best wishes, Tom.


Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 05, 2011, 09:24:42 am
is emptiness extreme?
if we say that emptiness is nothingness... then that is extreme. likewise, if we say that emptiness is being that is extreme, but infact emptiness is neither being nor nothingness in a clear sense, but beyond and at the root of both of these. if you were able to shed or drop all things including nothingness you would then see the essence of emptiness. this essence is empty and results in the normal awareness that we have in our daily lives.

this normal awareness is always with us, but is it enlightenment?... I dont know, because i am not enlightened. i am still ignorant of certain things. perhaps i am an arhat. my outlflows have almost ceased. suffering has diminished, but is still present in my life. i am not a buddha. i strive towards enlightenment.

some will say that taking an extreme view of emptiness is not helpful, but i say that all things are emptiness, no nose, no ears no eyes, and yet i smell, listen and see, though as in a dream. one cant help what one sees.

this brings me back to talk of vivid awareness... is that true awakening. is awakening to awaken 'to' the mind or the awakening 'of' the mind. either of these could be true. im sure some of the people here will have experienced moments of vivid clarity.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 05, 2011, 10:20:58 am
Well, isn't 'middle way' an assertion?

if the middle way points towards 'neither', 'nor' in all cases. it always points towards emptiness in a clear manner. however to assert either or, or both is to point towards being. you can say neither being nor nothingness, either being or nothingness, or both... in my opinion all these approaches are emptiness. assertions and denials. why be attached to the denials or negations of 'neither' and 'nor', though this is a more obvious pointing towards emptiness... which can be seen as beyond being and nothingness and yet as being and nothingness at the same time. all is empty.

the teaching of Madhyamaka seems to be an assertion that there is nothing to assert! only emptiness, since emptiness is not a thing, it can be said not to be an assertion. but since emptiness is all things it can be said to be an assertion at the same time.

We must define the extremes before we can assert a middle position.  
the extremes are being and nothingness, the two opposite dualities that are used by philosophers to talk of existence. but actually emptiness is beyond either of these and is without duality. it is just emptiness. whatever can be said about it is only a pointing to the substance or sensation of this normal awareness we have in our every day lives. the taste of mind or emptiness.

For example, just how extreme does asceticism have to be to be the 'most' extreme?
this is to confuse the Middle Way with the Golden Mean. or to confuse what is focused on emptiness with what is focused on balance. not that balance isnt an important element of daily living.

How extreme does a belief in the absence of inherent existence have to be to be the most extreme or in the middle?  Surely a position that even the mind is empty of inherent existence is further from the middle than asserting that mind only exists inherently?
if we apply the golden mean to inherent existence we say that that existence of the True nature is balanced between existing and non existing. This is not the Middle way of Madhyamaka. the Madhyamikans would assert that there is neither existing nor non existing of an inherent nature... thus they say nothing, except that they do point directly towards emptiness.

The True nature is emptiness. I am emptiness and i know it. i see it and i taste it. if i have a nature, that nature is emptiness and is empty of all things and yet shows itself in the appearance of all things.

best wishes, Tom.

Thanks for those answers. :)

The trap is there for us all to fall into  - believing that we can establish a middle way for anyone else to follow when we know nothing of their minds.

There are many middles which do not seem workable to me - not the least being the extremes of 'mind' or 'no mind'.  That's like trying to define the mid-point of  'is' and 'isn't' by introducing 'maybe' as a valueless alternative.

Whilst we can define a mid-point between theories other beings expound, there is no' middle' in a continuum which has no start or end points, so I find the term expendable when applied to inherent existence, mind or consciousness.   
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: heybai on July 05, 2011, 09:06:38 pm
I am waiting for Tashi-la to return from his retreat.  I suspect he'd have something to add about here.

I think White Lotus is saying that the middle way of is/is not does not lie on a continuum but can be expressed by a tetralemma: not "is", not "is not"; both "is" and "is not", neither "is" nor "is not" -- if that makes sense.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: heybai on July 05, 2011, 09:08:38 pm
This is what I had in mind --

Dear Friends

om svasti

Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...

mangalam
Tashi Nyima
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 06, 2011, 02:37:46 am
This is what I had in mind --

Dear Friends

om svasti

Not this. Not that.
Not both. Not neither.

All fixed views are necessarily incomplete (including this one!). They express a narrowing of awareness that we call consciousness.

And then there's Great Madhyamaka (dbUma chenpo)...

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

Yes, I am more persuaded by Tashi's description of  Great Madhyamaka as a reasonable proposition.
My objection wasn't philosophical but based on what I see as faulty logic in describing these positions as being the 'middle' of something immeasurable.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: heybai on July 06, 2011, 03:25:30 am
The fourfold tetralemma is used as a logical solution to finding the "middle" of an immeasurable.   It redefines  the "middle" by re-visioning conceptual parameters.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 06, 2011, 11:28:34 am
The fourfold tetralemma is used as a logical solution to finding the "middle" of an immeasurable.   It redefines  the "middle" by re-visioning conceptual parameters.

That defines logical possibilities, but does not establish a midpoint, just alternative extremes, as with 'on' and 'off'.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on July 06, 2011, 03:08:20 pm
The fourfold tetralemma is used as a logical solution to finding the "middle" of an immeasurable.   It redefines  the "middle" by re-visioning conceptual parameters.
That defines logical possibilities, but does not establish a midpoint, just alternative extremes, as with 'on' and 'off'.
Since the tetralemna is a refutation of all the logical possibilities I've always reverted to the assumption that the answer was illogical.

With my apologies to Mr. Spock... :lol:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: heybai on July 06, 2011, 05:20:51 pm
The fourfold tetralemma is used as a logical solution to finding the "middle" of an immeasurable.   It redefines  the "middle" by re-visioning conceptual parameters.

Note I put "middle"  in quotation marks to show how the tetralemma "redefines" the middle.  It isn't a midway on a continuum but avoids all conceptualization and therefore any extreme.  This a kind of middle. 


That defines logical possibilities, but does not establish a midpoint, just alternative extremes, as with 'on' and 'off'.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 07, 2011, 07:31:41 am
I think White Lotus is saying that the middle way of is/is not does not lie on a continuum but can be expressed by a tetralemma: not "is", not "is not"; both "is" and "is not", neither "is" nor "is not" -- if that makes sense.
thank you Su Dong Pu.

not this, not that,
not both, not neither.
is a clear pointing towards experience of emptiness in its naked form... however what the refutation of the tetralemma misses is that - this, that, both and neither are all fundamentally empty, and it seems that some madhyamikans have not seen this.

you can strive after emptiness by the negation of all affirmations and miss the point that all affirmations are emptiness. that form is emptiness.

i say that the middle way is emptiness, it can be called a continuum, or it can be seen as a point. hard to pin down, elusive and beautiful in its simple normality and supreme understanding/wisdom at the same time. beautiful in its revealed glory. it can be called a point since this full stop: .... is emptiness. by trying to negate reality we fail to see that reality is emptiness. utterly. as a continuum, emptiness is one flavour. all things have this taste. it is not awareness. it is emptiness, and yet awareness is a form of emptiness.

but, it must be said that for some, refutation and non affirmation are an important step in appreciating emptiness. but true appreciation doesnt begin until all is seen as dreamlike, and the intellect agrees with experience. logic and reason correspond with seeing and sensation.

you know... im lucky because i never seriously doubted the Buddhas words. if i had it would have been much harder for me to be where im at now. not perfection. not the finish line, but nonetheless still a much better place to be that that at wich i was in the past. i see that the mahayana scriptures speak the truth.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 07, 2011, 07:51:44 am
Yeshe, talk of mind and no mind can seem extreme. in that it is like forming a duality of existence and non existence. emptiness however is not a duality. anything can be said about reality. whatever you want basically. what you look for is what you find. to say that there is no mind is simply to say that all is empty. emptiness is fullness. no mind is mind.

i call this seeing of emptiness the Grand Emptiness. it is not just a matter of emptiness of self, but emptiness of all reality. utterly everything is emptiness. there is talk of tathata in Zen and Chan. tathata is simply this... emptiness. 'this' is emptiness. there is existence and that existence is no existence. i am emptiness. i am not awakened, i am emptiness. now is emptiness, everything has the same taste. it is a continuum in the most basic sense.

one way of understanding tathata is to say that things are 'thus' 'so'. that they are beyond any kind of definition or description as to their nature. i cant agree with this on a fundamental level any longer. i have to say that things are merely apperances and that they are none other than 'emptiness'.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 07, 2011, 12:38:35 pm
Yeshe, talk of mind and no mind can seem extreme. in that it is like forming a duality of existence and non existence. emptiness however is not a duality. anything can be said about reality. whatever you want basically. what you look for is what you find. to say that there is no mind is simply to say that all is empty. emptiness is fullness. no mind is mind.

i call this seeing of emptiness the Grand Emptiness. it is not just a matter of emptiness of self, but emptiness of all reality. utterly everything is emptiness. there is talk of tathata in Zen and Chan. tathata is simply this... emptiness. 'this' is emptiness. there is existence and that existence is no existence. i am emptiness. i am not awakened, i am emptiness. now is emptiness, everything has the same taste. it is a continuum in the most basic sense.

one way of understanding tathata is to say that things are 'thus' 'so'. that they are beyond any kind of definition or description as to their nature. i cant agree with this on a fundamental level any longer. i have to say that things are merely apperances and that they are none other than 'emptiness'.

best wishes, Tom.

Sure.  I follow.  I refuted the label 'middle', nothing more. ;)

If a thing (or 'phenomenon') is merely an appearance, what is it that manifests that appearance, to what is it appearing, and what imputes this assertion of 'appearance' of something termed 'emptiness'?

I no longer have to say anything either, as there is nothing to be said by no self. LOL :)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 09, 2011, 08:45:22 am
Yeshe,

If a thing (or 'phenomenon') is merely an appearance, what is it that manifests that appearance, to what is it appearing, and what imputes this assertion of 'appearance' of something termed 'emptiness'?

emptiness is profound, everything and every potential it is.

this is the head banger.  a phenomenon does not appear and yet we see it clearly, though in a dream like way. some would say that it is mind that manifests that appearance. i say it is emptiness appearing to emptiness. emptiness imputes this empty assertion of an empty appearance.

not a thing appears yet we see this not a thing. its like watching a film in a way. in the Lankavatara sutra, the eighth stage bodhisattva is said to be in the World of No form. this is hard to explain... not a thing is seen even, and yet it is.

I no longer have to say anything either, as there is nothing to be said by no self. LOL :)
these words are the fundamental, why say nothing, or why not say something when this is only emptiness. no hang ups about speech or silence.

since beginning this thread... i have not uttered a single word! :)

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 09, 2011, 09:01:14 am
The Four Propositions, The Tetralemma:

not this, not that,
not both, not neither.

it is convenient in life to use the four proposions, though under analysis they dont hold up, even when talking about seeing a flower.

this is a flower, this is not a flower, this is and isnt a flower, this neither is nor isnt a flower. any of these postions can be held philosophically when introducing a flower, but for purposes of practicality and simplicity we stick to... this is a flower.

when discussing emptiness, it is said to be beyond the four propositions and that the four propositions in themselves are emptiness. i would say that the propositions are helpful in discussion but ultimately empty. why avoid their use in daily life, or even in discussion of the fundamental... which is emptiness. to say ''this is a flower is utterly empty.'' to remain silent is utterly empty. you cant get away from emptiness. Mind is emptiness. the four propositions whether we use them or not are all empty.

using speech one always reverts to the four propositions. this use is emptiness. No use.

best wishes, Tom.

ps earlier in this thread someone wondered whether the Alaya Vijnana, or Universal Mind/Store House Conciousness is a Self of sorts. it can be said to be No Self. ordinary self too can be said to be No Self. both of these positions are emptiness.
it can be said that there is, isnt, is neither, nor, or both (any of these postions) a self and that this self is No Self. to say it is so is emptiness, to say it is not so is emptiness. whatever arises in the Mind is No Mind and No fabrication. Emptiness. Be free.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 09, 2011, 09:23:40 am
See what happens when there is attachment to beliefs! LOL :)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 11, 2011, 08:25:39 am
do you see emptiness? or do you conject about it. either will do just fine.

what is wrong with beliefs, i see no attachment to them. also, when there are beliefs, there is emptiness, when there arnt beliefs there is emptiness. you cant get away from it nor can you stain it. i only see this... emptiness. at least thats my opinion. i cant see it any other way.

but if you wish to to see emptiness in its pure essence it may help to see into nothingness first. tan chien wu.

i hope it is not egotistical of me in examining my own experience and trying to understand its significance. ultimately even though i know that all is emptiness... still i dont know about enlightenment.

in the Lankavatara Sutra is written: "the Transcendental Intelligence attained intuitively by the Tathagatas, by their self realization of Noble Wisdom, is a realization of their own self nature."

i have realized my own/original self nature (Kensho)  and gone beyond that. however, still... i just dont know. the only thing i do know is emptiness. actually thats all i know and knowing this emptiness i cant say that i am awake (like the Buddha). i can only say that i am empty and emptiness. im not sure about anything except emptiness.

perhaps i will never know that i am enlightened, even if i am. this is since my mind cannot not abide in any one state, not even in emptiness (in which there is no abiding, nor anything to abide anyway). this is a function of emptiness. for me there is no enlightenment, only emptiness. i cant get any more basic  than that.

so... please be patient with me. i hope i have not wasted the time of people reading this thread. i do have beliefs, or speculations one could call them, but recognise that this is the natural arising of the mind, and it is natural to have thoughts. these are all emptiness.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 12, 2011, 09:26:48 am
See what happens when there is attachment to beliefs! LOL :)

is this a belief? i expect there isnt any attachment to it!

i would argue that to attach to either beliefs, or non beliefs would be equally distracting if one seeks to see emptiness.
some people are averse to conceptualising, or makeing any statement about the truth whatsoever. they just say that all is suchness. just as it is. words fail it. why be attached to this position. likewise there are those who insist on using speech. just flow. speaking speech, silent silence. am i attached to any one position Yeshe? i try to keep an open mind.

emptiness can and cannot be called a position. that is as a seeing it can be called a position or as a source of conjecture. however, since it does not exist and yet is all things it can also be a non position.

what i realise from this thread and reading Ashvaghosa's Faith in the Mahayana is that the terms enlightenment and delusion are both relatives. relative to each other. that is they are still merely dualities and therefore not the fundamental. emptiness however is an absolute, since it has no opposite. i conclude that there is no enlightenment, only emptiness.

unable to abide in any position or view, owing to the nature of my mind, it seems that i will never know enlightenment, except as the rising and falling of waves on the Mind. if all truly is empty, and thats the way i see things then there will never be enlightenment. nor infact anything. only emptiness.

emptiness is not a relative. it is the only absolute. at least thats the way i see things.

who is seeking enlightenment? they will never find it (i speculate), they will however find that there is no enlightenment and that this no enlightenment is perhaps true enlightenment. seeing emptiness may indeed be enlightenment. in which case, anyone who sees emptiness is enlighened, whether or not they know it.

the ironic thing is that everyone sees emptiness, they are just unaware of the fact. when emptiness is seen there is nothing new. nothing is attained, nor realised except that this was the way things have always been seen.

best wishes, Tom.

simply spoken,
red leaves drift across the sky.
autumn has come.
not far from the end now.
perhaps?!

the spiral has shrunk.
yes no yes no shrinking, from
years, months and days to hours.
will it ever stop its winding path,
of ever shrinking growing, up and
down. north, east, south and west.

can one hold to the circle?
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 12, 2011, 09:35:01 am
Santamonicaj,
Since the tetralemna is a refutation of all the logical possibilities I've always reverted to the assumption that the answer was illogical.

i wonder Santamonicaj, whether the tetralemma could also be an acceptance of all logical possibilities, as well as  a refutation (paradox... at the same time). why attach to acceptance or refutation. be free to use either.

best wishes, Tom.

a leaf blown in the wind,
up, down, around, it spirals in
and out.

can we ever reside in the circle...
emptiness. where is the residing.
i dont see it.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on July 12, 2011, 09:34:32 pm
Dear Friends

om svasti

Our Master Arya Asanga did not postulate a 'middle between extremes', but rather a 'middle BEYOND extremes'.

There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

The tetralemma refers to these two natures (fabricated and dependent). Not the one; not the other; not both; not neither. Why? They do not exist from their own side, and yet they appear.

But these are just words. We know enough philosophy, and perhaps more than enough. Let us accept a practice that makes sense to us, and dedicate ourselves to it. If we have chosen rightly, wonderful. If not, there is ample time for correction.

Abandon non-virtue: this in fulfilment of pratimoksha vows.
Cultivate goodness: this in fulfilment of bodhisattva vows .
Purify the mind: this in fulfilment of samaya vows.
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Yeshe on July 13, 2011, 01:01:18 pm
Dear Friends

om svasti

Our Master Arya Asanga did not postulate a 'middle between extremes', but rather a 'middle BEYOND extremes'.

There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

The tetralemma refers to these two natures (fabricated and dependent). Not the one; not the other; not both; not neither. Why? They do not exist from their own side, and yet they appear.

But these are just words. We know enough philosophy, and perhaps more than enough. Let us accept a practice that makes sense to us, and dedicate ourselves to it. If we have chosen rightly, wonderful. If not, there is ample time for correction.

Abandon non-virtue: this in fulfilment of pratimoksha vows.
Cultivate goodness: this in fulfilment of bodhisattva vows .
Purify the mind: this in fulfilment of samaya vows.
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

Tashi-la

So good to have you posting again. :)

As always, an answer which is succinct and complete.  Thank you.  _/\_

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on July 15, 2011, 10:45:19 pm
Dear Friends

om svasti

Our Master Arya Asanga did not postulate a 'middle between extremes', but rather a 'middle BEYOND extremes'.

There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

The tetralemma refers to these two natures (fabricated and dependent). Not the one; not the other; not both; not neither. Why? They do not exist from their own side, and yet they appear.

But these are just words. We know enough philosophy, and perhaps more than enough. Let us accept a practice that makes sense to us, and dedicate ourselves to it. If we have chosen rightly, wonderful. If not, there is ample time for correction.

Abandon non-virtue: this in fulfilment of pratimoksha vows.
Cultivate goodness: this in fulfilment of bodhisattva vows .
Purify the mind: this in fulfilment of samaya vows.
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima



Hi Tashi Nyima, nice to see you back again, excellent words. 

Nice to see you quote the very famous Verse 183 from Chapter 14 of the Dhammapada, The Buddha's Path of Wisdom. (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.14.budd.html)

“To avoid all evil,
To cultivate good,
To cleanse one's mind —
This is the teaching of the Buddhas.”

 :)

Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 16, 2011, 07:44:04 am
Tashi, respects.

There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

the only middle is emptiness! this emptiness is also the extremes. whilst the truly established nature is beyond all existents, it is also their  formation and appearance. so whilst emptiness is the beyond... it is also the within. there is no distinction.

at least thats how i see it!

Tashi. I hope your retreat went well.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on July 16, 2011, 11:06:39 am
Quote
There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.
This smacks of transcendentalism and is also a positive assertion, i.e. that 'something' is beyond. This is what I meant many posts ago when I argued that the apagogic proof cannot bring one to anything fruitful.

Outside of Madhyamika, as far as the Buddha was concerned as reported in the Nikayas, the use of the term sunna was to refer to the lacking in phenomena of self arising and atman (which would requisite other arising). Hence sunna = anatman and pratityasamudpada, i.e. empty is a short form of the phrase 'empty of self nature.' Elsewhere you will see it explained that it is recognition of the lack of self nature and the process of dependent origination that allows one to go beyond self, other, both or neither causation. It's pretty simple, and so I personally find that Prasangika Madhyamika, whilst refuting perfectly well, ties itself in a knot.
Quote from: S iv 54
Then Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "It is said that the world is empty, the world is empty, lord. In what respect is it said that the world is empty?"

"Insofar as it is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self: Thus it is said, Ananda, that the world is empty. And what is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self? The eye is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Forms... Eye-consciousness... Eye-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self.

"The ear is empty...

"The nose is empty...

"The tongue is empty...

"The body is empty...

"The intellect is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Ideas... Intellect-consciousness... Intellect-contact is empty of a self or of anything pertaining to a self. Thus it is said that the world is empty."

- "whilst the truly established nature is beyond all existents"
--> There is no way for it to be beyond that which exists, for if it were it would neither exist nor would it by true and established.

- "it is also their  formation and appearance. so whilst emptiness is the beyond... it is also the within. there is no distinction."
--> The term 'beyond' here is still a catchup. Unless you mean 'beyond perceiving self-nature', then it is contradicting the notion that it is within phenomena. In which case, it is not beyond existents, but is the way existents are.

 :namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on July 17, 2011, 08:20:53 am
Guilty as charged!

May all who have great attachment for their own views (and self-emptiness is a view; 'incorregible', according to Arya Nagarjuna) find the experience of peace and bliss beyond all words.

The objective of argument is victory, not Truth.

mangalam
TN
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on July 17, 2011, 04:56:16 pm
Quote
There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.
This smacks of transcendentalism and is also a positive assertion, i.e. that 'something' is beyond.
Exactly! Very good--you understand!
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 18, 2011, 07:04:59 am
There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

lets not forget that the within is also beyond. to be seen in its pure pristine manifestation, the final stage before total disappearance of the subject a 'beyond' of the within is seen. it is in that place where there is neither anything, everything nor nothingness. this i call the seeing of emptiness in its transcendental state. such a seeing is definitely beyond the realms of normal experience and so can be called transcendental. however it must not be forgotten that this emptiness is at the root of all things and is all things, but only seen in its transcendental non-state in the beyond.

in its transcendental manifestation the within becomes like a bright moon or a giant pearl. then you wake up the next morning and no longer have a subject, the within is gone. seeing emptiness in its pristine nature means the annihilation of the subject and disappearance of the 'own nature', only the object nature remains to be seen. Kaizan calls this the great Icchantika (without buddha nature).

this beyond is also perfectly experienced in the form of normal everyday mind and so it is thoroughly immanent.
whether we see emptiness in a transcendent way or in the normal, just two sides of the same coin. emptiness.

thank you Tashi for your humility, but you are right to speak of the beyond. however... the greatest of all beyonds is within the daily experience of life and not in the rarefied. beyond the experience of most is this normal every day mind, because they are looking for something special. the own nature that we have at this moment. which is known as rigpa (normative awareness).

''everyday mind is the way''.
transcendent experiences will come and go like sun and rain,
none permanent, but all things are necessary.
it is not only being that matters, but also becoming.
seeing, i know that being and becoming are only appearances.
emptiness.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 18, 2011, 07:23:18 am
Ben,

This smacks of transcendentalism and is also a positive assertion, i.e. that 'something' is beyond.

transcendentalism is to be attached to the sublime and special, which has a role and a function, but may detract from our appreciation of ordinary life and experience. if we speak of a beyond, it is a non-state and so where is anything to be asserted. it is not. beyond is not even nothing. within is not even nothing. emptiness.

people hold onto form, saying that it is only empty of self nature. actually no, there is nothing whatsoever to assert, and true attainment is realizing (i speculate) that there is no attainment, however there is still the 'appearance' of attainment, where there is infact not a thing anywhere. appearances are important, very important, they make up the substance of our lives. The self is an appearance, where there is none. reality is an appearance, where there is none. attainment is an appearance, where there is none. not a thing.

talking about this is all fine, however I have to see it with my own eyes, and in my own mind. what i am talking about is not at all logical, it is however seeing reality, and ''reality does not compute captain'' (in the words of spocK).

best wishes, Tom.



Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on July 18, 2011, 02:46:03 pm
Quote from: White Lotus
There is no middle point between non-existents, between the fabricated and the dependent natures. The truly established nature is beyond both.

lets not forget that the within is also beyond. to be seen in its pure pristine manifestation, the final stage before total disappearance of the subject a 'beyond' of the within is seen. it is in that place where there is neither anything, everything nor nothingness. this i call the seeing of emptiness in its transcendental state. such a seeing is definitely beyond the realms of normal experience and so can be called transcendental. however it must not be forgotten that this emptiness is at the root of all things and is all things, but only seen in its transcendental non-state in the beyond.

in its transcendental manifestation the within becomes like a bright moon or a giant pearl. then you wake up the next morning and no longer have a subject, the within is gone. seeing emptiness in its pristine nature means the annihilation of the subject and disappearance of the 'own nature', only the object nature remains to be seen. Kaizan calls this the great Icchantika (without buddha nature).

this beyond is also perfectly experienced in the form of normal everyday mind and so it is thoroughly immanent.

whether we see emptiness in a transcendent way or in the normal, just two sides of the same coin. emptiness.



Hi white lotus, is what you describe essentially any different from than the “luminous mind”  described in the Nikayas?

Pabhassara Sutta: Luminous AN 1.49-52 (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an01/an01.049.than.html)

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements." {I,v,9}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements." {I,v,10}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is defiled by incoming defilements. The uninstructed run-of-the-mill person doesn't discern that as it actually is present, which is why I tell you that — for the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person — there is no development of the mind." {I,vi,1}

"Luminous, monks, is the mind. And it is freed from incoming defilements. The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones discerns that as it actually is present, which is why

I tell you that — for the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — there is development of the mind." {I,vi,2}


Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on July 19, 2011, 10:22:29 pm
Ben,

This smacks of transcendentalism and is also a positive assertion, i.e. that 'something' is beyond.

transcendentalism is to be attached to the sublime and special, which has a role and a function, but may detract from our appreciation of ordinary life and experience. if we speak of a beyond, it is a non-state and so where is anything to be asserted. it is not. beyond is not even nothing. within is not even nothing. emptiness.

people hold onto form, saying that it is only empty of self nature. actually no, there is nothing whatsoever to assert, and true attainment is realizing (i speculate) that there is no attainment, however there is still the 'appearance' of attainment, where there is infact not a thing anywhere. appearances are important, very important, they make up the substance of our lives. The self is an appearance, where there is none. reality is an appearance, where there is none. attainment is an appearance, where there is none. not a thing.

talking about this is all fine, however I have to see it with my own eyes, and in my own mind. what i am talking about is not at all logical, it is however seeing reality, and ''reality does not compute captain'' (in the words of spocK).

best wishes, Tom.
Tom,

Thanks for your reply. I think to a degree that Francis' post addresses some of the issues raised in your own. I think you may wish to clarify whether or not you are indeed denying everything. Nihilism and scepticism are not things which are unusual to be attributed to the Madhyamika viewpoint, and is part of why the Lankavatara asserted a transcended subjective reality, and why Bodhidharma and Huineng show attempts at reconciling the two approaches by combining the them. The Buddha's approach was of course the middle path, both in daily living and in theoretical matters. Neither absolutism nor scepticism; neither eternalism nor nihilism; neither deontology nor emotivism; neither realism nor nominalism. This of course results in a kind of relativism, which is palatable if we do not hold that there are views which are superior or more certain than others - it is exactly those views which the Buddha criticised the most. Ultimately what matters is the benefit and well being of all sentient beings, and that which contributes most to their welfare is the most appropriate in any given situation - whereas extremes rarely are.

Quote from: White Lotus on: July 18, 2011, 10:04:59 am
seeing emptiness ... means ... disappearance of the 'own nature', only the object nature remains to be seen
That is what they call 'svabhava', in fact the object is as dependently originated as the self is. Seeing emptiness from Nagarjuna's perspective, as from the Buddha in the Nikayas would mean seeing dependent origination. That is not the Madhyamika perspective, that is the Sarvastivada perspective.

Best of Wishes,
Ben Yuan
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 20, 2011, 07:40:09 am
Francis, when seen, the mind is always luminous, but when we go beyond, mind, emptiness, nothingness, that which is not is very luminous, seeing it the within shines like a full moon, or like a giant pearl. this seen when one renounces everything with vows. something remains which cannot be swept away and yet leads to the disappearance of the subject (self experience had already gone). the Chinese National Teacher Hui Chung said... no name whatsoever for it... and yet i say, it is emptiness. the nameless is named. emptiness. the empty source is to be seen in its pristine nature in that place where there is absolutely not a thing. all things have been swept away by vows and intention.

thank you Ben,
you may wish to clarify whether or not you are indeed denying everything. Nihilism and scepticism are not things which are unusual to be attributed to the Madhyamika viewpoint

emptiness cannot be denied, nor can it be wiped away and yet it is not a thing, not even nothingness (Nihlo). Nihilism is a heterodox teaching that there is nothing... Shen Hui, Wei Langs principle disciple said... ''just see into nothingness'' (tan chien wu). i believe that this is a part of the journey, however not the end (i speculate).

to assert nothingness is to assert everythingness or anythingness. emptiness is beyond either of these dualistic opposites in that it has no opposite. everything is empty and nothing is empty. truly empty, not just nothing, which is still a position.

if i am denying everything then i will not say that emptiness is... such and such, i will not say that emptiness is form. (these are assertions), however if i deny that there is anything to be denied, since as the heart sutra says... "in emptyness there is no form". then i am both denying and asserting at the same time, as did Siddharta.

i deny things, since all is emptiness, and i assert things since i see and experience them. prajna awareness says that there is not a thing to assert, but prajna awarenss also sees, touches, tastes and smells all duality/reality.

there are two realities, the fundamental ''seeing'' of emptiness and the normal seeing of dualities, bot are empty, but i see both.

I hope this makes some sense, it is not easy describing emptiness in terms of denying and not denying, since both denying and not denying are both empty. though we see their appearance in this thread... it is only an appearance. i am free to assert emptiness and in so doing deny the existence of everything, however i am typing at this computer. paradox.
i dont see anything and yet i see this computer. paradox. there is not a thing to assert. there is not a thing to deny. assertion is empty, denial is empty.

That is what they call 'svabhava', in fact the object is as dependently originated as the self is. absolutely everything is dependently originated except emptiness, which is dependent origination and yet exists independently. the self, the Self, the Subject, the Objective all are dependent, all are emptiness, which is independent.

i assert emptiness, in doing this i assert that all things including assertion are emptiness.

only emptiness.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 20, 2011, 07:47:59 am
if i assert prajna, and insight i can deny everything.
is i assert ordinary seeing, i can affirm everything.
both are empty.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Sunya on July 20, 2011, 08:11:13 am
Mindful of the title of this thread ("Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms"), here's an attempt at a brief explanation with limited abstraction (which is sure to become more abstract than I intend).

Sunyata (emptiness) is used to refer to the emptiness of self or anything pertaining to a self. Not an Absolute, it is merely upaya (a pedagogical device) used to uphold a Madhyama Pratipada (middle path) between Ucchedavada (nihilism) and Sassatavada (eternalism).

Madhyamaka is neither dualistic (2) nor non-dualistic (1). If anything, it is all about emptiness (0), which is neither an assertion of "asti", it is (+1), nor of "nasti", it is not (-1), but  the refutation of both, without replacing either position with anything else.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: francis on July 21, 2011, 05:25:00 am
Francis, when seen, the mind is always luminous, but when we go beyond, mind, emptiness, nothingness, that which is not is very luminous, seeing it the within shines like a full moon, or like a giant pearl. this seen when one renounces everything with vows. something remains which cannot be swept away and yet leads to the disappearance of the subject (self experience had already gone). the Chinese National Teacher Hui Chung said... no name whatsoever for it... and yet i say, it is emptiness. the nameless is named. emptiness. the empty source is to be seen in its pristine nature in that place where there is absolutely not a thing. all things have been swept away by vows and intention.


Hi White Lotus, I think you are looking for something that doesn’t really exist.  When we wipe away the defilements from the window we call a mind, we get a clean luminous window.  Nothing more, not some Buddha nature hiding within.  Just a clean mind.  We don’t transcend, so much as understand the mind, and with understanding go beyond the limitations of the mind. 

The Existence of an Eternal Self in Buddhism (http://www.dharmacentral.com/forum/content.php?52-Eternal-Self-in-Buddhism)

“According to shunyata theory, all things are empty of a self-nature (svabhava), essenceless.

It has been theorized that the Shunyavadin’s real purpose in positing such a negative position was due to a conscious attempt to clearly distance their position from that of the Vedantists. John Keenan affirms this position when he writes:

"Guarding against constant solicitation from Brahmanic influence, the major doctrinal trajectories of Indian Buddhism shied away from anything that seemed to suggest a Buddhist centrism; that there is any core reality, however august, ineffable, or hidden, from which all things come and to which all return." (Keenan, qtd. in Griffiths, 1990)

Shunyata realization is recognized by the followers of tathagatagarbha as being a necessary precondition to the realization of tathagatagarbha, but only as a precondition.

Many Buddhist practitioners view shunyata as an ontological reality, and therefore as an end in itself. Others, however, found this negative approach to philosophy to be too unfulfilling, too dry (Prasad, 1991). Being aligned with the latter view, tathagatagarbha thinkers viewed shunyata as a prerequisite emptying of oneself of the false in order to open oneself to the true, one’s innate Buddha nature. Rather than being the goal, shunyata is merely the process for achieving the goal. In the Ratna-gotravibhaga, shunyata is viewed as a process designed to clear one’s vision, the goal of which is the realization of something positive, the tathagatagarbha-dharmakaya (Takasaki, 1966). …

The tathagatagarbha doctrine presents us with ideas that are quite similar to those found in many of the world’s religions, especially Buddhism's sister religion Sanatana Dharma. The dogmas of the lack of self and the non-existence of an Absolute have probably served as the major stumbling blocks in the acceptance of Buddhism in attempts at ecumenical dialogue. The tathagatagarbha doctrine could serve as a point of reference that will allow non-Buddhist religions to approach Buddhism with a more open mind.

Overall, post-Shakyamuni contemporary Buddhism seems to present itself as a via negativa, an attempt to know the Absolute by systematically stripping way all that the Absolute is not. The human mind can not live on a diet of negation alone, however, and seems to inevitably yearn to know the positive side of ultimate reality.

The human being ultimately experiences both intellectual and existential dissatisfaction without the assurance of an ever-existent soul, or atman. The theory of tathagatagarbha was apparently born from just such a natural yearning. As a via positiva, it confirmed the existence of a true self, an eternal self, as juxtaposed against the egoic “self”; and of an Absolute possessed of superlative qualities.”



A really good article written by a Hindu scholar, but it completely misses the point.  That point being that the teachings of the Buddha shakyamuni on anatta are unique amongst the myriad of religions that teach “attachment and clinging” to a non-existence self, soul or Buddha nature.   
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 21, 2011, 07:23:26 am
The human mind can not live on a diet of negation alone, however, and seems to inevitably yearn to know the positive side of ultimate reality.

Francis and Sunya,
i wonder whether reality is like a ticking watch, you clearly see the face, but when you open up the back... there is no mechanism. it is empty.

or like a tapestry, which when you turn it over has no pattern of threads, or needle work backing it.

if this makes it any easier, there is a real watch and a real tapestry, we see them, touch them, use them, however in their mechanism they are empty.

emptiness is reality, reality is real. so we can say that all things are empty from the viewpoint of prajna (wisdom seeing), but  real from the ordinary perception.

Sunya, mahayana goes further than the emptiness of self. it posits the emptiness of all things including all objects. however that is not to say that these things arnt real. real appearances, however still basically emptiness.

the mechanism of reality is emptiness, the function of reality is real appearance. emptiness is form. reality is emptiness, reality is real. at the same time. perhaps this is asserting the positive side of reality Francis.

the danger of all these ideas is that they are speculations, and may not be grounded in actuality.

all i can say, all i know from my own seeing and experience is that when i see things with reference to my true nature, all things are empty, including that nature. and when i see things without reference to this nature, just flowing, they are real enough... still however there is a feeling of dreamlikeness to all this. insubstantiality.

the metaphors come from my own experience. the watch and the tapestry. and come after seeking to understand how emptiness and reality relate to each other. its a toughie, and the metaphors may not be accurate. i only say this because in my own experience i doubt the existence of any kind of substantial reality whatsoever.

its hard to get ones head around all this!

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Karma Dondrup Tashi on July 21, 2011, 07:31:11 am
Ultimate reality is emptiness, relative reality is ordinary. But dividing things into ultimates and relatives is itself a relative view.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Sunya on July 21, 2011, 07:38:11 am
White Lotus,

Emptiness of self extends to emptiness of all objects. All things, all objects, all phenomena are empty of self or anything pertaining to a self. So "empty of self" seems to be the simplest of terms in which to express this. "Emptiness of self" does not mean that only the self is empty. It means that everything is empty of self.

"It is" is a notion of eternity. "It is not" is a nihilistic view. Therefore, one who is wise does not have recourse to "being" or "non-being." (MMK 15.10)

Neither bhava (being) nor vibhava (non-being) apply, in any case, as there is no svabhava (self nature), anywhere, to do either. The question of being vs. non-being, itself, is flawed, as are many other questions that arise.

If you wanted to discuss this at an abstract level, you might have wanted to choose a different title for this thread.

:anjali:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 21, 2011, 07:39:31 am
Francis,

Hi White Lotus, I think you are looking for something that doesn’t really exist.  When we wipe away the defilements from the window we call a mind, we get a clean luminous window.

what and where is there anything for dust to cling to. only emptiness, and yet this computer is a little dusty and could do with a polish!

yes, Francis, we can say that not a thing really exists, even emptiness does not exist. there is not a thing. no name whatsoever for it. not a thing to name, not a thing to be named, so i call it emptiness. (which is a provisional name).

is this experience reality? i dont know, it seems like a dream to me, nothing seems truly real. but i still feel pain.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Sunya on July 21, 2011, 07:41:27 am
Ultimate reality is emptiness, relative reality is ordinary. But dividing things into ultimates and relatives is itself a relative view.

"The highest sense of the truth is not taught apart from practical behavior, And without having understood the highest sense one cannot understand nirvana" (MMK 24.10)

:namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 21, 2011, 07:49:07 am
Ultimate reality is emptiness, relative reality is ordinary. But dividing things into ultimates and relatives is itself a relative view.

this was an attempt to reconcile Francis's negative and positive, however i can easily say that both are empty. i can also say that nothingness is empty and that everythingness is empty. thats all i can say with a degree of ease.

yes, much to learn, much to understand. talk of fundamental and obvious is not helpful. since both are empty.

why say that not this, it is not, is nihilism, especially when nothingness does not exist. it is a duality, emptiness is not a duality. reality and unreality are dualities, both are empty.

best wishes, Tom.

i refute the existence of anything whatsoever, including nothingness.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Karma Dondrup Tashi on July 21, 2011, 07:50:13 am
Ultimate reality is emptiness, relative reality is ordinary. But dividing things into ultimates and relatives is itself a relative view.

"The highest sense of the truth is not taught apart from practical behavior, And without having understood the highest sense one cannot understand nirvana" (MMK 24.10)

:namaste:

I'm down wid it.

 :cheesy:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Sunya on July 21, 2011, 07:52:57 am
i refute the existence of anything whatsoever, including nothingness.

And the existence of the non-existence of nothingness? Do you refute that?

The teacher Gautama has taught that a "becoming" and a "non-becoming" (vibhava) are destroyed; Therefore it obtains that: Nirvana is neither an existent thing nor a non-existent thing. (MMK 25.10)
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: TashiNyima on July 21, 2011, 10:37:37 am
"All is empty" is an absolute.

A non-implicative negation is an assertion of nothing.

Self-emptiness is empty of self-emptiness.

All words can be refuted with other words. It is perhaps better to practice than to speculate...

Be kind; be compassionate; rejoice in the happiness of others; regard all without bias.

Practice generosity, morality, and patience.

Through diligent effort, be mindful and cultivate wisdom.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Sunya on July 21, 2011, 10:45:27 am
"All is empty" is an absolute.

A non-implicative negation is an assertion of nothing.

Self-emptiness is empty of self-emptiness.

All words can be refuted with other words. It is perhaps better to practice than to speculate...

Be kind; be compassionate; rejoice in the happiness of others; regard all without bias.

Practice generosity, morality, and patience.

Through diligent effort, be mindful and cultivate wisdom.

mangalam
Tashi Nyima

This is precisely what I feel Nagarjuna was attempting to illustrate in his writings.

:anjali:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 22, 2011, 08:33:28 am
And the existence of the non-existence of nothingness? Do you refute that?

i refute any kind of existence! if the mechanism of the watch is empty, so too is the face, so too is the ticking.

A non-implicative negation is an assertion of nothing.

not a thing to assert. sorry to be so boring, but there isnt much to say!.. and yet it radiates all the time, this emptiness, which is all things.

All words can be refuted with other words. It is perhaps better to practice than to speculate...
all words can be refuted logically, however experience cannot be refuted. speculation is not always helpful, but it serves a purpose, when grounded in experience. speculation when grounded in logic is misleading. it may not be logical to say that everything is emptiness, however... that is my experience, the way i see things.

many people wish for balance. they want emtiness to be balanced by an opposite, and so they say that if you assert nothing (non being), you must assert something (being). negative must be balanced by positive. but emptiness goes beyond all the oppositions of philosophy and is not balanced. this may seem negative, but it is not. emptiness is not nihlistic nothingness, nor is it something, it glows and radiates and yet, it is not, being not, it is all things.

going beyond being (everything) and non being (nothingness). it is not a thing and there is not a thing to assert.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on July 22, 2011, 03:26:05 pm
i refute any kind of existence! if the mechanism of the watch is empty, so too is the face, so too is the ticking.
"When  this  exists,  that exists, as 'long' exists, when 'short' exists. On the arising of this, that arises, as light arises on the arising of a lamp."
In dependent origination things exist: In emptiness things exist. They lack inherent existence and self hood, hence they are empty.

A 'non-assertion assertion', however plausible it may appear, fails to carry any conviction. For the disproof of that which one rejects, even if valid, does not necessarily establish one's own position as true, for one's view may be false as well.
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it glows and radiates
Are we not getting unnecessarily mystical now? Let's keep this in common parlance. Concepts generally are not radiant things. :fu:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 24, 2011, 08:59:48 am
Ben, regards,

"When  this  exists,  that exists, as 'long' exists, when 'short' exists. On the arising of this, that arises, as light arises on the arising of a lamp."
In dependent origination things exist: In emptiness things exist. They lack inherent existence and self hood, hence they are empty.


in conventional terms things can be said to exist, including dependence and causality, but as i see things these are only appearances. magical apparitions. dreams, illusions, bubbles. the horn of a rabbit, the hair of a tortoise, nothing more. i know this is terrifying for some people, let alone the teaching of no self, but the idea of complete emptiness, not a thing; is bound to be difficult for most people. especially rational reasoning people. this emptiness is a seeing, not a logical deduction.

there are levels to Siddharta's teaching, he tells someone what they need to hear at that given moment... even if this does imply contradictions. one of my teachers told me, you need to seek nothing, that enlightenment is nothing. and when i had attained that he changed his teaching to take me further... drop nothing! same with the Baudhaluka sutra amongst others it is helpful for those who are conventional seekers. Dependent origination is a great teaching, but eventually like my own words one recognises that the Buddha wasn't saying anything. the words were empty.

the fact of dependent origination points towards the emptiness of all things. if i were to say to you that things exist that would to me be like saying that this computer is a donkey. i honestly dont see any existence whatsoever. though i have tried to persuade myself that i do... in present analysis i am unable to.

i am reading the Awakening of Faith, by Ashvaghosa at the moment. it is said by Suzuki Roshi to have had a profound effect on the Northern School of Ch'an (Zen). Ashvaghosa is clear that emptiness is not absolute, he talks about the non empty in balance with the empty (a typical philosopher). i however disagree with him. i also disagree that the mind must be polished until it is clear of defilements. mind is always pure. this is since mind is empty. there is no mind to be defiled.

there is an intellectual approach and this may conflict with the experiential approach. intellectual concepts are not always helpful, and it is terribly difficult to say much or anything about emptiness. it has to be seen, not understood. when seen it probably wont be understood.

if you wish to see the emptiness of all things first you must be able to see the sameness of all things. the next stage is to see your own nature, the true nature of Mind... this is emptiness. when you see original nature you see that within and without are the same. there is no longer a subject and object (at least until the subject is annihilated.).

there are many who water down the implictions of emptiness... including myself at times; wanting to believe that something exists. however... seeing, brings one back to ''reality''... that there is none, only emptiness.

And yet as an appearance ''existence'' is quite real, but to me only 'quite'. i cant say that this is reality, i can only say that this is empty. i am but a bubble, not even that. it has popped.

I hope this is not confusing, but there have always been those who insist upon an intsy wintsy bit of something beyond or attached to emptiness. no there is only emptiness.

''concepts'' are not radiant, though they may have the 'zing' of truth about them. emptiness and seeing is radiant, it has a warmth to it. it is not cold nor discomforting.

best wishes, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: santamonicacj on July 24, 2011, 09:43:21 am
in conventional terms things can be said to exist, including dependence and causality, but as i see things these are only appearances. magical apparitions. dreams, illusions, bubbles. the horn of a rabbit, the hair of a tortoise, nothing more.
Actually the analogies of "horns of a rabbit" and "hair of a tortoise" refer to complete non-existence. In the same way horses can be said to exist, but unicorns do not. There is no such thing as a unicorn, or the horns of a rabbit, or the hair of a tortoise. They are NOT of the nature of emptiness, because they do not exist at all (at least as interpreted by the Gelug presentation).

The other analogies are used to describe the simultaneous appearance and emptiness of the apparent world.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on July 25, 2011, 12:33:22 am
Tom,
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dependence and causality, but as i see things these are only appearances
Dependence and causality are not the appearances, they are synonyms of emptiness. The appearance is substantiality (svabhava) and selfhood (atman), the problem is that one does not see the conditionality and dependence, but the svabhava and atman which are the appearances, &c.
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but the idea of complete emptiness, not a thing
That is, complete dependency of thing upon thing. Recall: not a substantial or self-like thing.
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like my own words one recognises that the Buddha wasn't saying anything. the words were empty.
Actually you are making a sceptical assertion which is exactly the same as that made by the Buddha's predecessor Sanjaya. Yes, words are empty or else they would be impossible to arise. That does not mean he is saying nothing. That is a nihilistic denial of that which has arisen. When something arises you note 'this has arisen', and so forth when it ceases. The Buddha's theory of language was much more intelligent than scepticism. Whereas Sanjaya was reluctant to make any positive pronouncements through fear of falling into error, the Buddha was willing to recognize the limitations of human knowledge and provide a reasonable description of truth and reality without reaching out for ultimate objectivity. This approach allowed him t avoid any ontological or metaphysical commitments and deal with language in a more meaningful way.
"Whatever be the phenomena that arise from causes, the Tathagata has expounded their causation as well as their cessation. The great recluse is such a theorist." (D 3. 134)
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if i were to say to you that things exist that would to me be like saying that this computer is a donkey.
The language rejected by Nagarjuna with regards to existing phenomena is that which exists with substantiality, as opposed to that which has arisen due to causes and conditions and that which has ceased due to causes and conditions. Quite a large difference. Your argument about the computer and the donkey is a false equivalency. One object and another object, is not analogous to one mode of being (svabhava) and another (pratityasamudpada or sunyata).
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i also disagree that the mind must be polished until it is clear of defilements. mind is always pure. this is since mind is empty. there is no mind to be defiled.
How is this relevent? May we discuss the topic, namely "Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms"?
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intellectual concepts are not always helpful, and it is terribly difficult to say much or anything about emptiness. it has to be seen, not understood. when seen it probably wont be understood.
I am not sure anyone ever claimed that it can be known through philosophical methods. But it is general principle in Classical Buddhist practice that one have superficial intellectual understanding first, which is later internalised and intuited through meditation upon the topic at hand.
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if you wish to see the emptiness of all things first you must be able to see the sameness of all things.
Nagarjuna, nor any Madhyamika philosopher that I am aware of, claimed non-duality. In fact non-duality is illogical. If all is one, nothing would move, nothing would change, you wouldn't think, and the laugh would last forever, there would be only one moment of existence and it would not be sensed. On the other hand, as far as we can intuit, the world is a random series of arisings and passings away with no unifying meaning. Any attempt at monism or holism are just delusional attempts to reconcile oneself with the flux of reality, which is ever changing, ever arising and passing away.
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the next stage is to see your own nature, the true nature of Mind... this is emptiness. when you see original nature you see that within and without are the same. there is no longer a subject and object
Thank you for laying out clearly the method of Upanishadic bhavana (raja yoga) which was rejected by the Buddha. If there were no issue with this the Buddha would have stayed with Alara Kalama and taught Brahmanism. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it is just not true to the words of the Buddha - that is, unless you would be keen to provide a quote where the Buddha states that Nirvana did not result from knowledge into the arising and cessation of phenomena and consequent waning of influxes.
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at least until the subject is annihilated
I would be most keen to see a dissection of this term subject. What is it that is being annihilated? Form? Feeling? Perception? etc...
And how does this sit with the Buddha's rejection of the question as to whether the Tathagata exists after death or not due to it's inadequacy as a question in it's understanding of knowledge?
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there are many who water down the implictions of emptiness... including myself at times; wanting to believe that something exists. however... seeing, brings one back to ''reality''... that there is none, only emptiness.

And yet as an appearance ''existence'' is quite real, but to me only 'quite'. i cant say that this is reality, i can only say that this is empty. i am but a bubble, not even that. it has popped.

I hope this is not confusing, but there have always been those who insist upon an intsy wintsy bit of something beyond or attached to emptiness. no there is only emptiness.
In short, "there is (not) emptiness of all things (that don't exist)." Not even Nagarjuna forced conventional and unconventional in one string of claims.

Best Regards,
Ben Yuan
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 26, 2011, 07:14:37 am
Ben, i cant fault your logic! you have a clear argument, as do you also Sanatamonicaj. i stand by my proposition, that nothing exists whatsoever. all is maya, mereley majic like dreams. i am so sorry, but i just cant get away from what i see. i know it sounds crazy... not a thing... well who then is typing at the computer? no one.

this one is emptiness.

you have a faultless argument, both of you. i have very little to argue, only what i see. some have said that rigpa is not empty because it glows. i say that even this glowing is merely a phantomlike appearance. there is not a thing. and yet this not a thing is most productive in producing the 10,000 forms and names.

thank you for your patience.

i deliberately speak of sameness and not non duality this is since the sameness is merely the uniformity of emptiness. speaking of oneness is not helpful. i only speak of emptiness. nothing to be one nor many.

best wishes, Tom.

Ben, which of your points would you like to discuss in more detail, too many for me to address in this post especially since i am using a difficult keypad.

the horns of a rabbit dont exist, neither does this. all a city of the Ghandharvas. illusion, mirage.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 26, 2011, 09:07:00 am
Ben, i have come in to my local internet kiosk in order to address your points, seeing as you have obviously made an effort to address what i have said, i dont want to show you any disrespect by leaving your points unanswered...

so, it may not be easy for me to answer all your points logically since i am relying on my own experience and that is difficult to express in words. i hope very much that my answer will not simply be a logical refutation of what you have written, but rather a clear expression of what i actually see.

Dependence and causality are not the appearances, they are synonyms of emptiness.
talk of emptiness itself is an appearance. there are no synonmys of emptiness, only emptiness itself. since all things are empty and all things are emptiness. thats how i see it.

That is, complete dependency of thing upon thing
 "not a thing", only words, this 'thing' depended upon is not a thing, it is not to be depended upon, since it is not.

that the Buddha wasn't saying anything.
just paraphrasing the Buddhas own words, something like "for these past fifty years i have not uttered a single word of teaching."

Tathagata has expounded their causation as well as their cessation.
the buddha said that (paraphrase) "all things in the triple world are mind only". that is emptiness, they dont exist, except conventionally; but to someone who does not see this they exist objectively and are real.

that which has arisen due to causes and conditions
dependent origination. an illusory cookie factory producing illusory cookies (not to sound disrespectful). an illusory mechanism in an illusory world. not even mind. dependent origination is only emptiness, so are all things that are dependent. only empty.

i also disagree that the mind must be polished until it is clear of defilements
this is relevant to a discussion of the middle way, since the middle way is always complete and the emptiness that the middle way signifies requires no polishing by meditative absorption (see wei lang [southern dialect]/hui neng: dhyana is prajna (wisdom)).

it is general principle in Classical Buddhist practice that one have superficial intellectual understanding first, which is later internalised and intuited through meditation upon the topic at hand.
yes. i prefer seeing (prajna).

the sameness of all things.
is not the oneness of all things. all things are empty and so all things have the same taste... that is when you are able to see and explore the nature of emptiness. the sensation in my mind when i look at this computer is no different from the sensation i experience within myself. the same... not one, not two. etc etc.

the true nature of Mind... this is emptiness.
this is not raja yoga, the yogis would do well to see this, but they dont, lacking in knowledge and insight of the Buddha.

the arising and cessation of phenomena and consequent waning of influxes.
we all see this dependent arising and ceasing, but when you taste original nature, you realize that this arising and ceasing is only an illusion. it is not.

What is it that is being annihilated?
there is no annihilation, only the appearance of a conditioned cessation of a once arisen subject. illusions, bubbles, dreams, rabbits with horns. less than real. a ''film show''. (puppet projection: an allusion from the lankevatara sutra.)

whether the Tathagata exists after death or not
whether or not i exist now? the answer is no. but you see me! at least my words. only emptiness.

In short, "there is (not) emptiness of all things (that don't exist)." Not even Nagarjuna forced conventional and unconventional in one string of claims.
to put it more clearly... there is only emptiness. not even that. yet, i appear to see, hear, taste. there is inception, preservation, change, and destruction. causeality, and dependence seem very real to someone who has not seen original nature.

when you see emptiness, you cant get away from it, even in ordinary viewing, the world is no more, nor less real than a dream.

thank you Ben,
and respects. Very thorough.

Tom.

ps. Zen master Suzuki warned that people who rely on logic would complain about those that see with Prajna. logic and Prajna are incompatible. we will be accused of Nihlism, but are not nihilists, we have gone beyond non being and being. what can we say? its impossible to express in words other than those used in our daily lives.

what is it?

have a cup of tea! (emptiness).


















Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on July 26, 2011, 10:37:56 pm
Tom,

Thank you for your reply.

Firstly,
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Zen master Suzuki warned that people who rely on logic would complain about those that see with Prajna.
Of course Suzuki is talking from his own tradition's point of view about a method used by all other traditions including the Buddha in the sutras. You see, what the Buddha said regarding rejecting logic is that the problem lies with those who rely on 'logic alone' without experience, who as a result of their attachment to logic will reject the reality of various forms of experience, and will almost always come to wrong conclusions. The best example is probably Sanjaya.

Of course the Buddha uses logic in almost all sutras - where needed for clarification.

And of course, Suzuki uses logic himself in his books, and you have been using logic in most of your posts.

Every claim has logical justification, unless one is being silly, writing poetry, or literary Ch'an, i.e. Kungans, or Koans.
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talk of emptiness itself is an appearance. there are no synonmys of emptiness, only emptiness itself. since all things are empty and all things are emptiness. thats how i see it.
Well, one would reply that since all things are empty, all things are synonymous with emptiness, and since all things are dependently arisen, dependent origination is a synonym of emptiness.
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"not a thing", only words, this 'thing' depended upon is not a thing, it is not to be depended upon, since it is not.
Generally, a thing could be said to be that which is experienced or known, and the experience and knowledge of it arise through dependent origination, and thus because they neither have self nature nor any form of inherent nature, but arise dependent upon causes and conditions, they are empty of inherent existence.
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just paraphrasing the Buddhas own words, something like "for these past fifty years i have not uttered a single word of teaching."
Yes it is indeed a common Ch'an saying linked to the practice. Quite useful - one should not conclude that they are indeed the words of the Buddha, as they are not found elsewhere except in 'sayings'. All is very well though.
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the buddha said that (paraphrase) "all things in the triple world are mind only". that is emptiness, they dont exist, except conventionally; but to someone who does not see this they exist objectively and are real.
Indeed, in the Lankavatara that is stated. This is of course a 4th century text, intended to expound the Yogacara position. Normally in Yogacara the reason for emptiness is also dependent origination, not origination from mind (since that would be the 'other creation', a logical impossibility). Indeed the dependently originated objects in Yogacara are not real, but for a different reason than for their emptiness. They are not real because they are productions of the mind, whereas in Classical Buddhism the existence and non-existence is not actually claimed, though that which is arisen and experienced is normally referred to as existing.
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dependent origination. an illusory cookie factory producing illusory cookies (not to sound disrespectful). an illusory mechanism in an illusory world. not even mind. dependent origination is only emptiness, so are all things that are dependent. only empty.
Haha, no disrespect taken. Yes, this is the Yogacara position, and you are correct, dependent origination is only emptiness, that is, a synonym of emptiness. This is for a different reason than the non-reality of phenomena in the Yogacara perspective however, it is because of the nature of dependent origination and the resulting lack of self-nature or inherent nature (atman and svabhava). Dependent origination as illusory is a claim that would be hard to sustain, since it's true - though it all depends on what you mean by illusory. If you mean by illusory that dependent origination is a dependently originated object of mind and therefore is devoid of self nature and thus empty and illusory in apparent inherent existence, then yes indeed, dependent origination is quite the illusion.
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this is relevant to a discussion of the middle way, since the middle way is always complete and the emptiness that the middle way signifies requires no polishing by meditative absorption (see wei lang [southern dialect]/hui neng: dhyana is prajna (wisdom)).
Yes, though usually the Yogacarins and the derivative Chinese variations would have implied the polishing to be done to reveal Buddhanature or a pure mind, often alaya (8th) consciousness, or for some Indian Yogacarins the 9th consciousness. But as you see, Huineng uses the Madhyamika methods and understandings, to catch a possible true meaning of the Yogacara claims, thus allowing for them to avoid positing a truly existent mind, or self.
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yes. i prefer seeing (prajna).
Prajna is wisdom, Darshana is seeing. They're not mutually exclusive of course.
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is not the oneness of all things. all things are empty and so all things have the same taste... that is when you are able to see and explore the nature of emptiness. the sensation in my mind when i look at this computer is no different from the sensation i experience within myself. the same... not one, not two. etc etc.
Yes, this is different from being 'identical' and is different from annihilating subject and object in the literal non-dual sense however.
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this is not raja yoga, the yogis would do well to see this, but they dont, lacking in knowledge and insight of the Buddha.
When it is a process of destroying or removing subject and object, or seeing them as the same, then it is indeed raja yoga, unless you meant by your first mention the same in the 'all being empty' sense.
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we all see this dependent arising and ceasing, but when you taste original nature, you realize that this arising and ceasing is only an illusion. it is not.
Why is it 'original?' Be careful, this seems to imply some sort of 'ultimate reality.' Of course an attached to and percieved as permanent, self-imbued arising and cessation would be illusion. For the 'actual' and 'experienced' empty process to be so would be a nihilism.
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there is no annihilation, only the appearance of a conditioned cessation of a once arisen subject.
Right, it is all appearance and experience, no substantial inherent nature.
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whether or not i exist now? the answer is no. but you see me! at least my words. only emptiness.
So the answer is neither yes, nor no, nor both yes and no, nor neither.
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to put it more clearly... there is only emptiness. not even that. ... original nature
I think most would say it is 'ineffable'. Yet, why 'original,' does this not carry connotations of time? Surely not 'fundamental' for that would be an ultimate or transcendent reality.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on July 29, 2011, 08:02:13 am
Gosh Ben, i havent got long on the internet, will try to address your points!

first of all i must mention that i find the lankevatara sutra corresponds to my own experience, therefore i think it is authentic... at the moment! whether or not you call it mind only school, doesnt matter. it does say that emptiness is one expression for enlightenment.

an example of its emphasis on emptiness is the following: "As things are there is no universal mind, no noble wisdom and no ultimate reality... for the wise all things are wiped away, even the imageless ceases to exist."

this is very much my experience. in some zen schools there is an emphasis on suchness, and this can be understood as being things as they are, but to me i just cannot see that the mountain is a mountain, the computer is a computer. to me these things are emptiness, therefore i find the teaching of suchness difficult.

the Buddha said regarding rejecting logic is that the problem lies with those who rely on 'logic alone' without experience
yes, but prajna tends not to be logical, and certainly isnt the simplest explanation.

since all things are dependently arisen, dependent origination is a synonym of emptiness.
if by a synonym you mean 'identical', i agree.

a thing could be said to be that which is experienced or known emptiness can be seen, but not known. it is beyond knowing, saying anything about it is ridiculously difficult, exept that it is all things and not a single thing at the same time.

thus because they neither have self nature nor any form of inherent nature, but arise dependent upon causes and conditions, they are empty of inherent existence. since they are empty they can be said not to exist, but since we see them they can be said to exist. but this seeing is dreamlike, not real. we are all dreamers, but most of us think that we are awake.

in Yogacara the reason for emptiness is also dependent origination i would say that dependent origination is not the reason for emptiness. i would say that it is the result of emptiness and is emptiness. dependent origination is an expression of emptiness at the root of all things. it points towards emptiness. as you know.

i understand dependence, however understanding dependence is not the same as seeing emptiness of all things. dependence does not require prajna, seeing is prajna.

Dependent origination as illusory is a claim that would be hard to sustain, since it's true - though it all depends on what you mean by illusory. it cant be sustained through logic, it can only be seen as it truly is. empty. what i mean by illusory is that this reality is synonmymous with the dream state. it is not substantial. it can be said not to exist as reality, but it can be said to exist as a dream. And we all know that dreams are Maya like.

dependent origination is quite the illusion. the Mahaparinirvanah says that (paraphrase) ''when arising and cessation stop there is great stillness''. this arising and cessation are the activity of dependent origination, but when things are no longer seen as real, what is arisen, what ceases? emptiness arises, emptiness, ceases, emptiness is just empty. it it is not even that. it is not.

i dont see dependent origination. i dont see anything and yet am typing at this computer. its not real.

allowing for them to avoid positing a truly existent mind, or self. there is no mind. is this position Yogacara or Madhyamaka? only emptiness. its magical, totally productive and from this 'no', arise the 10,000 forms and existences, none of which truly exists!

why is it original? original nature is original since it is emptiness, the state of deep sleep, and waking, only emptiness is orginal. as you say timeless, its always been so. just emptiness.

Right, it is all appearance and experience, no substantial inherent nature. yes. not even nothing, nor nothingness.

So the answer is neither yes, nor no, nor both yes and no, nor neither. the answer is whatever you want it to be... every answer is empty. freedom comes before emptiness is understood.
the tetralemma is the phenomenal, emptiness is the fundamental. they are both one and the same.

best wishes, Tom.

ps thanks Ben for an interesting discussion. tc.









Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Ben Yuan on August 01, 2011, 02:09:07 pm
Tom,

Thanks for the reply.

Certainly in calling the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra a text of the Yogācāra school I mean not to call it inauthentic in regards to what it claims to be, after all, that which is well spoken is the word of the Buddha, and that which leads to cessation is well spoken.

To save time, all in all the perspective you bring the perspective I am bringing to this discussion remind me of what Ādi Śaṅkara said about comparisons and analogies. All the words used to describe Śūnyatā are analogies, not the actual thing, a finger pointing at the moon.

"Whenever two things are compared, they are so with reference to a particular point. Equality of the two can never be demonstrated."

Thus, be it clear that I am talking in terms of comparison. The words used to describe emptiness in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā, Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā and the works of Nāgārjuna are not emptiness itself - that is to be experienced.

Though I do not agree with many points you have made, and would question the reasoning behind your frequent incomprehensibility, I believe we can agree on these points.

Best Wishes
 :namaste:
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on August 04, 2011, 06:43:10 am
All the words used to describe Śūnyatā are analogies, not the actual thing, a finger pointing at the moon.

yes, Ben, the word emptiness is not emptiness, the word form is not form, the word mind is not mind. we only see and taste these things. they all have the same taste.

to see the emptiness of things is simple... you see it right now as you look at your screen (mind/seeing is emptiness). when you look within the sensation is the same as when you look without. what you see right now is emptiness... you may not recognise it, but emptiness is perception of the within and the without.
if you are looking for something that feels like emptiness you wont find it... this is since normal awareness is though empty, non empty like.
just see your seeing now. that is it.


i say that this un-namable quality is emptiness since in it there is not a thing to describe, it cant even be said to exist, and yet it is the appearance all things.

prajna wisdom seeing is a matter of understanding the ordinary perception or ordinary mind right in front of you. all things are this mind.

my arguments are futile and not worth the time to read, however if you genuinely see the world in front of you you are seeing emptiness. form is emptiness. mind is emptiness, mind is buddha.

in zen i see different nameings of the fundamental/emptiness.
it is called suchness by those who say it is beyond language and designation, you can only taste it, but not describe it in words.
it is called Mind by some, the Self by others,
for me i like to call it emptiness, since i find that emptiness is logically the root of form. the root of form is Mind or emptiness.
i call the fundamental emptiness, however emptiness is not emptiness. there is no emptiness. and yet this not thing is pregnant and active as the 10,000 forms of reality. its not a thing, its everything.

i am speculating about emptiness, however, it is the tasting of emptiness that gives me some authority to speak about it. though we speculate about emptiness, is it not better just to see and taste it for oneself.

The words used to describe emptiness in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā, Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā and the works of Nāgārjuna are not emptiness itself - that is to be experienced.
these words are emptiness itself. everything is emptiness, but i know what you mean, when you look at these words you do not see emptiness, however i do.

would question the reasoning behind your frequent incomprehensibility if you mean paradox, well, that is known these days as ''contradictory certitude'' and is a post modern approach towards logic, that defies the old aristotelian approach of the law of non contradiction and just happens to occur in Zen, because it is only possible to explain in terms of paradox.

im sorry! i know it must give you a head ache, all this contradiction, but its the only way i can explain my experience. why not forget about all these words and just see emptiness for yourself. then i wont be wasting your time with my lexical gymnastics.

"Whenever two things are compared, they are so with reference to a particular point. Equality of the two can never be demonstrated." the two wings of a bird are both needed to fly, and both objects compared are empty. what you seek is what you find... ''can never be demonstrated'' has been sought and found, now it is time to look for ''can be demonstrated''. then neither can nor cant, or both... whatever you want. all these positions are nothing but emptiness... and i am worried that i am wasting your time. im sorry if i am. i respect you and recognise your profound insight, its just that i speak from prajna and not logic.

best wishes and respects Ben, Tom.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: White Lotus on August 08, 2011, 08:28:55 am
Earlier on in this thread there was talk about the tetralemma. the four propositions.

it occured to me today that people are limited to usually any one of the four. either being nor non being (either or), both being and non being (both), neither being nor non being (neither nor). or none of these things (none).

if any one of these four positions is taken then there is an attachment to a particular approach. if for example we say that there is a fundamental reality we are attached to 'is', if we say there isnt we are are attached to 'isnt', we are attached to either or. if we say there is no being (neither) nor non being, we are attached to neither nor or.

all of these positions are empty and so are real at the same time, its just that different people will see different elements of the tetralemma as true at any given time. infact all positions are true (empty) and false (empty) at the same time.

i raise this point because i have seen that in buddhist posts there is an attachment to the statement ''neither being, nor non being''. if ''neither being nor non being'' is asserted that is no different from asserting ''either being or non being''. they are just relative positions in the tetralemma and related.

whatever we say is empty, whatever we say is relevant (empty). one cannot get away from emptiness. if we are silent that can be seen as the (non) affirmation of neither nor. to say that the fundamental is beyond any kind of assertion, is to make an 'is' assertion. 'is', isnt, both, neither is still within the tetralemma.

can one ever get away from the tetralemma? it would seem not. it can be said that all truth is, isnt, both, neither true. based on our experiences we make assumptions, but all of these assumptions are within the tetralemma and 'are' empty. is, are... is still an assertion and so attached to a position.

is it possible to say anything that goes beyond a relative assertion, is it possible to avoid an attachment to any kind of assertion in the tetralemma. i expect not. even silence is a relative position (perhaps a 'no' position). it asserts the impossiblity of expressing the fundamental. and yet it can be asserted that even this sentence is the fundamental.

why do we get hung up on phrases such as being, non being, existence and non existence. taking a position may be no different from not taking a position.

to say that all is emptiness is an assertion that does not detract from the reality of things, though they may seem dreamlike, they are empty and therefore real. since emptiness is reality.

best wishes, Tom.  :twocents:

ps Ben, your avatar is auspicious, the red robe worn by your avatar is indicative of enlightenment. as you probably know, red is the colour of enlightenment in China. a portent?... perhaps. i hope so. tc.
Title: Re: Please can the method behing Madhyamaka be explained in simple terms.
Post by: Amitabha on August 11, 2011, 11:01:46 pm
Madhyamaka is one of other sastra that relates the experience of middle-path in the Tripitaka. It is from Buddhists who had attained the level of buddhahood that may not necessarily the supreme level same as Gotama buddha. However, their experience on insight of middle-path provided their illustration in the form of sastra. Sastra is a much more explicit and simple revelation of the sutra in the form of discussing the sutra - called wisdom.
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